2U launched a $3 million dollar scholarship fund this week for underrepresented people of color and women looking to enter tech training bootcamps at universities in the Lanham-based edtech company’s network, including Baltimore’s John Hopkins University.
A scholarship of $2,500 will be available to Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners, as well as women, that demonstrate both need and merit. The Coding Boot Camp at Johns Hopkins Engineering is normally $10,995.
“The scholarship of $2,500 reduces the cost a significant amount,” said Andrew Hermalyn, president of global partnerships at 2U. “which we hope will expand access to the program to more people whose livelihoods have been recently impacted by factors that may be related to Covid-19 or other hardships”
The rationale is the scholarship will increase access to boot camps that offer skills training in subjects like coding, UX/UI and cybersecurity. The idea is that the bootcamp graduates can then get hired in tech. That will combat a rise in unemployment that disproportionately affects Black people. This was evident in last week’s federal jobs report, which saw overall unemployment decrease for the country as a whole but rise in the Black community.
“As the economic impact of the pandemic continues to unfold, millions of people have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight, with people of color and women disproportionately affected,” said 2U cofounder and CEO Christopher “Chip” Paucek.
Tech giants like Microsoft and Google self-reported to Wired and there hasn’t been much of an increase over the years in representation for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people among their workforces. The number of Black and Latinx technical employees rose by less than percentage point at both companies since 2014, when they started releasing diversity reports. This is despite initiatives like Google’s one-year residency for juniors at historically black colleges, or the millions invested to introduce people from nontraditional backgrounds into tech.
“Our hope is that this scholarship helps more people from underrepresented communities enter the tech space,” said Hermalyn. “but we know education is only the first step towards increasing diversity and equality for these communities in the workplace.”
The scholarship can be applied at over 100 online bootcamps. That includes Johns Hopkins’ bootcamp, which launched last year through a partnership between the university and Trilogy Education. 2U acquired Trilogy last year to add skills-based bootcamps to its offerings.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.-30-