General Assembly Creates Scholarship Fund For Women, Minorities, And Veterans

The coding school partners with Google, Microsoft, Hirepurpose, and hip-hop artist Nas to create the Opportunity Fund.

The software industry may be lucrative, but it isn't exactly known for being diverse. A number of organizations and individuals are hoping to change that with programs that encourage women and minorities to learn how to code. To that end, on Thursday coding bootcamp General Assembly announced a scholarship fund for aspiring developers, who will in turn volunteer 100 hours to mentor underprivileged youth as part of the program.

Partnering with Google, Microsoft, Hirepurpose, and hip-hop artist Nas's QueensBridge Venture Partners, the Opportunity Fund will launch with $170,000. Of the $8,500 scholarship each student receives, 80% will come from the benefactor and 20% from General Assembly, which has campuses around the world. Qualified students will still be responsible for $3,000 of tuition.

"The Opportunity Fund sort of represents this founding pilot program we hope will become something really big," General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz told Fast Company. "We have a lot more conversations in motion."

Google's funding will specifically support female developers while Microsoft's scholarship is designated for veterans. Funding from Hirepurpose and QueensBridge Venture Partners is allotted for black and Latino students looking to pursue careers in tech. Hirepurpose will also provide veteran recipients of Microsoft's scholarship with a $4,000 housing stipend. "Each corporation has its own agenda for who and what causes they want to support," Schwartz said.

Aside from the Opportunity Fund, San Francisco-based Hack Reactor announced Wednesday a partnership with Twitter and the Bay Area Video Coalition to offer two full scholarships each year to its 12-week course. The so-called Level the Field scholarship covers Hack Reactor's $17,780 tuition, with the social network paying 80% and the school funding the remaining 20%.

Earlier this year, fellow hack school Dev Bootcamp partnered with the organization Girls Develop It to offer 10 $2,500 scholarships for women. One man even launched an Indiegogo campaign to create the Code It Forward fund to finance his own education at General Assembly, promising to donate 10% of his salary for two years to support another minority programmer, who in turn will continue the cycle. Taking a different approach, Y Combinator nonprofit CodeNow is hoping to change the face of developers at the high school level, creating a program for tech companies to host programming training sessions for underrepresented students.

[Image: Flickr user Junpei Abe]

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