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The Code Collective Trains Young Adults for Tech

1:59 p.m. May 26, 2021

Students practice coding in a CodeCrew class. (Photo courtesy of CodeCrew)

Last month, the Collective Blueprint and CodeCrew were the recipients of an NBA Foundation grant aimed at creating employment opportunities, improving career advancement, and boosting economic empowerment in Black communities. That recognition allowed the organizations to kick off a new partnership that combines their missions into one cohesive program. Called the Code Collective, the unique nine-month course will support young adults as they train to become entry-level software developers.

“It’s a natural partnership for us,” says Sabrina Dawson, co-founder and vice president of programs at the Collective Blueprint. “We believe in supporting the whole young adult, and we know that there are many circumstances that may prevent them from completing a program or their education. If we marry the schooling and instruction that CodeCrew does so well with the support we provide, it really turns into an organic partnership.”

Sabrina Dawson (photo courtesy the Collective Blueprint)

The nine-month program, which starts on June 14th, is available for Shelby County residents between the ages of 17 and 30. Applicants are those who have been out of work at some point in the pas

t year, and must not be currently enrolled in any type of bachelor, associate, or certification program. They are also required to have a high school diploma or equivalent certification.

“We’re offering the software development education class, so you’re going to learn how to code, how to build various applications, and you’ll leave the program with a portfolio which you’ll be able to show to potential employers to showcase your skill set,” says Erin Johnson, CodeCrew’s code school program director. “There will be different modules that teach different skills. Think of it as a gradual process, like moving from a 101 to a 102 level class, and eventually up to 300 level courses.”

To start out with, classes will be attended virtually. The only in-person interaction will be an interview as part of the application process. “But we’d like to get back in the classroom when COVID calms down,” continues Johnson, “so we’re making arrangements to make that happen.” Applicants will also have to participate in a one-day Code 101 workshop to be admitted, with the next available class taking place Saturday, May 29th.

While CodeCrew provides the technical expertise, the Collective Blueprint will b

e offering the full gamut of support services that the organization is known for. Each Code Collective participant will receive a monthly stipend of $400, access to a persistence coach, and counseling assistance with any barriers that may pop up during the program.

“That could include things like identifying tutoring support to helping with housing instability,” says Dawson. “We’ll also provide access to mental health support in the form of individual counseling or group/support counseling. We’re also giving them a network of mentors and professional support. Think exposure to work opportunities and job placement support and assistance.”

Erin Johnson (photo courtesy CodeCrew)

The first cohort can accommodate up to 25 students. But Johnson and Dawson say that if there’s a massive influx of applications, their organizations may look at the feasibility of creating more classes. But for now, the Code Collective will at least have one annual cohort going forward.

“Workforce development is something that we’re both aligned with,” says Johnson. “We want to be able to provide economic and social mobility for young adults, and we also want to be able to better the city of Memphis and see economic mobility. We want to start making a greater impact. We’re both very interested in boosting and diversifying the workforce. We’re both excited about this program, so it’s something we look forward to continuing.”

Graduates of CodeCrew’s adult programs in the computer science field have an approximate annual starting salary of around $51,000.

Check out The Memphis Flyer article here


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