Flatiron News

Forging New Ground with US Department of Education to Expand Access to Job Skills Training

Flatiron School / 16 August 2016

Geraldina Alverez-Garcia, Jayana Johnson and Natacha Springer aren’t your typical programmers. None of them were coding prodigies or even have computer science degrees. Geraldina worked at odd jobs, Jayana was an administrative assistant and Natacha was a scientist who transitioned to part-time baker after becoming a mom. And yet, after completing Flatiron School’s Full Stack Web Development program, as part of the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline Fellowship, all three found work as programmers at companies like MasterCard, Kickstarter and VICE media.

From the moment we opened our doors in 2012, our mission at Flatiron School has been to increase access to high-quality and rigorous software development training programs that would enable someone with no prior coding experience – like Geraldina, Jayana and Natacha – to secure a job as a programmer within a matter of months. At the same time, we also saw a need to help tech companies build more diverse teams of people from all kinds of backgrounds, especially those underrepresented in the industry. In fact, according to our independently-verified jobs report, nearly 40% of our 2015 graduates are women, and 24% were low-income.

A new type of credential

Building on this work, we’re now delighted to announce that, together with SUNY Empire State College, we’ve been selected to join the Department of Education’s EQUIP program (Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships). This initiative aims to provide Americans with more flexible and affordable options in higher education, while at the same time helping them build in-demand job skills, such as software development.

As part of EQUIP, our two schools will create an accelerated certificate program that will train students to become web developers. And what’s more, admitted students will be eligible for federal student aid for the first time. Because funding of this kind hasn’t historically been available for non-traditional education such as coding bootcamps like ours, this a huge step in enabling more people to access this type of practical, outcomes-based education.

Students will complete foundational courses in writing and math at SUNY Empire, as well as Flatiron School’s Full Stack Web Development curriculum. Upon completion, they will receive a certificate in web development from SUNY Empire, in addition to having high-demand job skills.

“We’re excited that the government is pushing the boundaries to redefine what constitutes higher education and recognizes that there are many pathways to success and economic mobility,” said Adam Enbar, our co-founder and CEO. “By partnering with Empire State College through EQUIP, we’ll be able to expand access to our Full Stack Web Developer program – which has already enabled hundreds of graduates to find fulfilling careers as developers – and help even more people change their lives.”

We hope – and are confident – that through innovative partnerships like EQUIP, we’ll be able to impact more people like Geraldina. In her own words:

“Living in New York City on my own has been quite an experience, but I can’t believe how much my life has changed since I completed Flatiron School’s Fellowship. After juggling jobs to pay my rent and struggling with immigration lawyers, the Fellowship provided the opportunity of a lifetime. Today, I’m excited to be working as a Software Engineer where I am able to do what I love every day.”

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