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5 Innovative Coding Programs That Are Changing the Face of Tech

With companies scrambling for tech-savvy talent, these coding programs are educating underserved populations — and bridging the gap.

By Emily Handy on May 14, 2018

These days, knowing how to code is almost as important as knowing how to tie your shoes or brush your teeth.

As technology becomes more and more integral to every industry, coding skills have become an extremely valuable asset to job seekers across the board. However, according to a recent survey, many K-12 programs and universities are not preparing those core skills that employers are currently seeking. In an effort to bridge the gap and build a more diverse workforce, innovative coding programs are providing crucial education to populations that are often underrepresented in the tech field.

Here are five coding schools, bootcamps and programs around the country that are teaching valuable skills – and changing the face of tech.

1. Vets Who Code, Nashville, TN

This Nashville-based nonprofit was founded in 2014 with an honorable goal: to teach and train veterans how to code, preparing them with new technical skills so they can have rewarding new careers after military service. Vets who Code is an intensive program done remotely with a focus on language proficiency and JavaScript. Throughout the courses, veterans also learn data visualization, data science and cyber security, as well as go over interview preparations and how to identify job opportunities.

When asked why their focus is on JavaScript, Vets Who Code founder Jerome Hardaway said: “It’s speed of adoption as well as the fact that you can’t use the web without it made it an obvious choice. You can start building complex apps on your machine with a text editor or in browser with tools like of from our partner Repl.it.”

Applying for the program is simple –vets simply click “apply†on the Vets Who Code website header and provide some basic information about themselves, including their favorite MRE.

“Our small nonprofit has helped veterans land jobs in San Francisco, Seattle, Augusta, and Chicago,†says Hardaway.

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2.  LaunchCode, St. Louis, Missouri

When Square founder Jim McKelvey couldn’t find enough qualified workers in his native St. Louis and had to move his company to Silicon Valley, he decided to start LaunchCode to fill in the gap of tech talent in St. Louis. LaunchCode was born in 2013, and works by connecting people seeking jobs in technology with resources, and, ultimately, an apprenticeship in the field with one of their 500 employer partners.

“Apprenticeship equips our workforce with accessible training that minimizes the skills gap threatening our country’s economic future,” says Jeff Mazur, Executive Director of LaunchCode. “Taking on an apprentice gives employers a low-risk way to build a junior talent pipeline and the flexibility to mold apprentices to their unique needs.”

To get started, candidates take a 10-second questionnaire to help place them in the right training program, whether it’s in-person or online. Then, LaunchCode will have you register for their learning tool that will help you navigate all of the various learning options.

So far, LaunchCode has helped propel more than 910 apprenticeships and direct hires in St. Louis and the company’s hub cities, which include Kansas City, Seattle, Portland and Tampa Bay.

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3. Bit Source, Kentucky

Like Vets Who Code, Bit Source is also focused on those looking for a second career option. But instead of veterans, Kentucky-based Bit Source has their eyes on the nation’s many laid-off coal miners. Many skilled, intelligent people in the Appalachian region are underemployed or even unemployed due to the nation’s decreased coal usage, and Bit Source is looking to change these statistics.

The company’s slogan, “A New Day, A New Way,†represents the changing region’s desire to stay relevant by adopting technology. As an Agile Software and Website Development house, Bit Source not only trains former coal miners, but allows them to work directly with clients to provide digital solutions.

“The miners have done well at adapting to their new line of work,†says Payton May, Director of Operations and Design at Bit Source. 

4. Wyncode Academy, Miami

You might not think of Miami as a tech hub, but this coastal city is an emerging tech center with a strong entrepreneurial spirit that also serves as the gateway to Latin America. Enter Wyncode Academy, which immerses students in a 10-week intensive program developed with the South Florida startup scene in mind.

Wyncode was one of the first coding schools in America, and the very first in Florida, to accept the GI Bill and was licensed by the Florida Department of Education’s Commission for Independent Education. The coding school offers both full-time and part-time courses in web development and UX UI design fundamentals. At the end of the program, students will pitch their final web app in front of some of South Florida’s top tech leaders, further propelling their careers.

The bootcamp reports that a whopping 91 percent of its graduates find jobs – and it makes sense due to the growing demand for developers in South Florida.

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5. Black Girls Code, San Francisco

The digital divide in San Francisco unfortunately follows the same patterns that society does in terms of race and gender. According to Black Girls Code, white families are nearly twice as likely to have internet access than black families. Launched in 2012 in the Golden Gate City, Black Girls Code aims to introduce girls of color to coding and game design. In just one year, this program has expanded out of San Francisco to reach even more girls of color in seven states and even Johannesburg, South Africa.

Black Girls Code offers workshops and summer camps where girls can learn anything from basic coding to robotics, and everything in between. Each workshop has financial aid options. The organization also offers hackathons, where girls brainstorm as a team to build an app, demoing their final products on stage.

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