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CodeCrew and The Collective Blueprint get assist from the NBA for tech career connection

By Corey Davis – Reporter, Memphis Business Journal

May 17, 2021 Updated Aug 16, 2021, 7:18pm CDT

CodeCrew students | Courtesy CodeCrew

Two Memphis nonprofits have formed a joint effort to connect residents to well-paid tech careers with the support of the NBA Foundation.

CodeCrew and The Collective Blueprint have launched the Code Collective, an education program designed to help train young adults be entry-level software developers.

In April 2021, the two organizations were announced as recipients of support from the NBA Foundation's second grant round. More than $3 million will be granted to nine organizations in the U.S. to create employment opportunities, further career advancement, and drive greater economic empowerment in Black communities.

The nine-month virtual Code Collective program — which begins Monday, June 14 — is designed for Memphis and Shelby County residents ages 17-30. It is for people that have been out of work at any point in the past year, have a high school diploma or equivalent certification, or are a current high school senior.

In addition, a person without an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and are not currently in a certification or college program are also encouraged to register for the program.

Tech fundamentals

The Code Collective will be broken into four CodeCrew modules. Students enrolled in the modules will use real-world technologies to learn the fundamentals of coding and system development.

Alongside CodeCrew training, students will be accepted into the Collective Blueprint’s career program, which includes career prep sessions, job placement support, and work exposure opportunities.

The Collective Blueprint will also provide a $400 monthly stipend, coaching, transportation assistance, mental health support, and employment skills.

Meka Egwuekwe, executive director of CodeCrew, said adult students that have gone through their CodeCrew training program in the past have earned key tech certifications, which are a gateway to high-paying jobs. Egwuekwe said the average starting salary for entry-level software developers is around $48,000. In CodeCrew’s adult program, after training, the annual starting salary for Code School graduates in the computer science field is $51,000. Graduates made only $15,100 in jobs prior to doing the program.

“Our program is young, and so average overall salaries have risen to $51,000, with some making well above that, but newer grads make the overall average lower, as you might expect", Egwuekwe said.

The need for this type of training is critical because the largest and fastest growing demographics are the ones most under-represented in computer science, Egwuekwe said.

“If cities don’t have these tech creative classes, then we will forever be talking about this issue of prosperity that we want in Memphis, but will never achieve it,” he said. “The No. 1 problem in our city is poverty. These careers, [entry-level software developers], are lucrative in that their starting salaries are well-above average. I’m not saying we are going to help all of Memphis’ poverty with this program, but this will make a difference in people's lives.”

Egwuekwe said the program is targeting at least 150 people. An online informational session will take place on Zoom on Monday, May 17 at 6 p.m. Applicants can register here. “We really want to emphasize our need to expand our employer partnership with engagement opportunities ranging from job shadowing to internships to full employment,” said Sarah Lockridge-Steckel, co-founder and CEO of The Collective Blueprint. “This is a critical last mile element of the chain connecting these individuals to employers' increasing tech talent needs."

Check out the Memphis Business Journal article here


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