A coding boot camp that freshly arrived in Kansas City this winter plans to underwrite $20,000 in scholarships specifically for individuals who are part of demographics underrepresented in the coding profession, said Rachael Bromander.
Prime Digital Academy is an accelerated, full-time immersion coding boot camp. The academy’s 20-week “Full Stack Engineering” program helps people change their career paths and land high-paying, in-demand tech jobs. Prime was founded in Minneapolis in 2014 as a response to the talent gap in the local community and since then, has helped more than 700 students launch their careers in tech. Prime Digital Academy has two campuses: Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Kansas City, Missouri.
“At a time in the market where tech talent is scarce and growth is booming, programs like Prime represent a way to fill the skills gap with a talent source that is not just significantly more diverse than the established one, but also who bring industry context and experience that will improve the ability for development teams to understand their users and better serve their needs,” said Bromander, Kansas City campus manager and head of community engagement.
Ten scholarships of $2,000 each will be available to students entering Prime Digital Academy in one its coming 2019 cohorts, according to the boot camp. The scholarship applicants will be vetted by a review panel consisting of members from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, KC Tech Council and Kansas City Women in Technology.
Click here to learn more about Prime Digital Academy’s programming and arrival in Kansas City.
Eligibility for the scholarship begins once students are accepted into a Prime Digital Academy boot camp cohort and meet a minimum of one of the following criteria:
- An annual household income of $28,000 or below (or dependent of a family meeting this criteria);
- Identifies as a woman;
- African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native American/Alaska Native descent;
- Member of the LGBTQ community
Additionally, applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals administrative program, as well as a resident of either Missouri or Kansas at the time of application.
Click here to learn more about Prime Digital Academy.
“The world is being transformed by technology. How we work, how we play, how we shop, how we vote, how we connect with others and how we see the world — virtually every aspect of our modern lives is changing,” said Bromander. “Prime is dedicated to the prospect that if the stakes are the future of everything, we must demand more than just the ability to write code from the authors of the tech reshaping our world.”
“If we want this revolution to result in a world that’s better for all, we need to ensure that the people we’re trusting to design and build our future have empathy for all users,” she continued. “That means that companies need to change the way they think about building their teams to be more inclusive, but it also means that we need to prepare a much more diverse set of people to take part in the tech workforce.”
The scholarships are a response to the significant lack of inclusion in Kansas City’s tech industry. White men fill 79.25 percent of all tech jobs across the metro area, according to the KC Tech Council’s KC Tech Specs 2018 report. Non-white women account for just 7.3 percent of those same jobs, Bromander said.
“We believe programs like Prime represent a huge opportunity to improve not only the diversity of our workforce but its efficacy, as well,” she said. “Because the average student of an immersion program comes with 5 to 15 years of work experience they often add a huge amount of business savvy and industry context to the development teams they join.”
“Someone who’s spent years in retail management is better equipped to design tools to help retailers schedule their shifts. We believe a person who’s worked in a hospital has a better chance at making real improvements in our health management systems,” she continued. “And at a time when so many industries are being actively disrupted by technology, programs like ours represent a way for affected workers to leverage their experience in a new way that provides a rewarding career and economic security for their families.”