Thoughts On Flatiron School’s New Web Development Fellowship

Today The Flatiron School announced a new free 8 month web development fellowship. I'm super excited for the school, for the NYC tech community, and most of all for the 64 people whose lives are about to be fundamentally transformed because of this opportunity.

1. Flatiron Got Another Huge Grant

The team running the Flatiron School is very savvy. One strategy in particular that they have deployed is aggressively going after public grants. They received a similar grant from NYC Workforce1 last year, as well as a $250,000 grant for moving their campus downtown. Doing the math this new program is granting 64 scholarships that normally cost $15,000 - totaling about $960,000. Good work Adam (and team)!

2. This Will Help Address Diversity In Tech

Gender and ethnic diversity in tech companies is one of the biggest issues in technology today. Flatiron has quietly been leading the way by teaching a lot of underrepresented groups of people how to code, and helping them get jobs at NYC tech companies. Their last fellowship class was 82% non white male, and their current Ruby class is over 60% female - an astounding figure when compared to the tech industry as a whole which is made up of just 26% women[1].

Having said that, Flatiron currently accepts only 6% of applicants[2] and charges $15,000 in tuition. This leaves out a lot of people who are fully capable of learning how to code, but maybe can’t afford the tuition, or maybe didn’t go to college and therefore don’t seem as impressive as other applicants with college degrees and don't get accepted.

This new scholarship is aimed specifically at young people without college degrees. I suspect that this will help Flatiron continue their great work bringing in people of diverse cultural and economic backgrounds into the NYC tech sector.

3. This Is A Rare Economic Ladder

Zooming out to the big picture, there is very low economic hope in America these days. People born poor have only an 8% chance of making it to the top, wages have been stagnant since the early 1970’s, and 95% of the economic gains since the Great Recession have gone to the the top 1%. For people who don't make a lot of money, and don't have a college degree - there are very, very few ways for them to really 'make it'.

The one bright spot in all this gloom has been the tech sector. An amazing amount of innovation has been happening in the world of bits, and the professional opportunities are just as astounding. With this grant, 64 people who didn't get a chance to go to college will now get the training and support they need to become a software engineer, and build a stable and fulfilling career. Avi sums up how big of a deal this program will be to it's attendees:

We as a society need to be doing more things like this to really give people hope and options for getting ahead.

4. The Paid Apprenticeship Is Beyond Amazing

The killer announcement here is the guaranteed 3 month paid internship at well established NYC companies such as Kickstarter and AppNexus. I've been a huge proponent of mass apprenticeships for coding n00bs, so I'm obviously thrilled that Flatiron is formally making this part of the program. I hope they bring this same paid apprenticeship guarantee to their non-scholarship Ruby and iOS classes in the future.

5. You Should Apply

I can guarantee from personal experience that attending Flatiron will change your life. Programming is super interesting, allows you to work on real problems on a daily basis, and make a good living. If you meet the qualifications (18-26, live in NYC, make less than $50,000) you should apply right now! Similarly if you know someone who fits this description, get them to apply as well. The first 32 students will start on January 12th, so get your application in ASAP!

1. 26% of professional computing occupations in the 2013 U.S. workforce held by women as seen in this PDF file from the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

2. As of 10/2014 according to Adam Enbar’s Quora post