Training would-be programmers from Kansas City’s urban core isn’t about getting rich, said Joshua Clark, co-founder of Accelerate Tech Learning.
But unfortunately that means it can be tricky to get underestimated students the costly education to become a certified developer in the world of information technology, added Mauri Trent, Accelerate Tech’s executive vice president of finance and operations.
“Money should not be a reason that someone is denied education,” Trent said. “So we make sure that’s not what’s happening.”
Accelerate Tech offers six- to 12-month courses through day and nighttime sessions in a program developed by instructor Bob King and former partner Lisa Sanesanong, a veteran Kansas City tech enthusiast and marketer. Cameron Chapman, senior software engineer at FanThreeSixty, is now consulting on the project, Trent said.
The full-stack development program includes soft skills lessons like interviewing, resume building and networking, in addition to classes on coding languages and website building, to send students to the professional world right out of the gate. A new class begins in August. It joins programs led by LaunchCode, SnapIT Solutions and others that seek to counteract Kansas City’s dramatic shortage of qualified tech workers.
Focusing on providing educational support and training to minority professionals not only reflects Clark’s and Trent’s backgrounds, but their passions for bucking stereotypes about people living in the urban core, they said.
Scholarships and other tuition assistance often are needed to cover the $18,788 cost of the program, Trent said.
“We believe in our students,” she said. “Once they exit the program and are placed in jobs, then they can repay us on the back end.”
The team accepts whatever monthly payment each student can make, as Accelerate Tech irons out long-term funding support from regional and federal agencies.
“We started this program with the intention of working with FEC [the Full Employment Council] and WIOA [Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act] to make sure that they can fund those students,” Trent said. “But, of course, with any startup, things don’t always go as planned.”
One key delay: The FEC is holding all funds until the first class graduates and a rate of job placement is in place, Clark said.
“It’s a setback, but that didn’t stop us,” he said. “We decided to work on a internal financing model for our students to make sure that there’s access to education that we know that people in our target audience really need.”
Kansas City residents already are automatically eligible for an internal $4,000 scholarship, Clark said.
Accelerate Tech hopes to partner with the FEC in the future, and continues campaigning for other scholarships and grant opportunities, Trent added.
Watch Accelerate Tech Learning’s recent presentation at 1 Million Cups Kansas City below.