Diversity & Inclusion
Education / Tech jobs / Web development / workforce development

LaunchCode is expanding its Philly presence with this free, in-person course at Belmont Charter

The St. Louis-HQ'd tech education nonprofit launched locally in 2021 and has until now only hosted virtual classes.

LaunchCode students at an in-person class in St. Louis. (Courtesy photo)

The average income of someone who enrolls in the tech bootcamp LaunchCode is $27,000. But after completing the course and an apprenticeship, the starting tech salary for those learners shoots up to $65,000, according to Erin Davison, senior manager of community engagement at the St. Louis-headquartered tech education nonprofit that expanded to Philadelphia in 2021.

“They see their income double by two times,” she told Technical.ly. The goal is to connect graduates to “family-sustaining and wealth-generating jobs.”

Over the last two years, LaunchCode has mainly had a virtual presence in the city, connecting its students via online programming. But this summer, it’s expanding to West Philadelphia, where the organization will be hosting its free, part-time web development class in person for the first time.

Davison said the online courses are great for accessibility, but the IRL introduction brings LaunchCode back to its roots in St. Louis, where the organization has regularly hosted in-person classes since its founding a decade ago.

Around 150 students are typically accepted for each cohort, she said. For this particular class, the students will be broken up into a few classrooms at Parkside’s Belmont Charter High School, each with a lead instructor and a teaching assistant for a more personal learning experience.

“For some people, you can’t undersell the experience of getting to sit in a classroom and look over to your peers and say, ‘Hey, did you get that?'”Erin Davison LaunchCode

“For some people, you can’t undersell the experience of getting to sit in a classroom and look over to your peers and say, ‘Hey, did you get that?’ Or undersell being in a classroom and [seeing] a student who is also a working mom come in and talk about having to find daycare or babysitting that night, when you also went through that that same day and it was hard for you,” she said. “It just makes getting through the class, which is rigorous and is difficult, easier and probably more worth it.”

Looking forward, LaunchCode will host both in-person and virtual classes in Philadelphia, as the org recognizes “different students have different learning styles,” she added.

LaunchCode accepts people over 18 with little or no tech skills and prepares them for entry-level tech positions through a 30-week course. This Philly class will cover front-end development, back-end development and professional development, with an optional apprenticeship after completing the course. It will run from 6 to 9 p.m. at Belmont Charter on Monday and Thursday evenings starting July 17.

Applications for this cohort are open now and will be accepted until June 18.

Access and information tend to be the biggest issue of getting underrepresented demographics into the tech industry, Davison noted (and something Technical.ly hears often in its reporting). This particular class will be hosted in West Philadelphia with the hope that it will be easier for people in that neighborhood to join.

“When you look at unemployment rates, they’re really high or [represent] underemployment and disengagement if we’re talking about youth in West Philadelphia — and that’s, again, not because of lack of will or lack of interest. It’s just, there are certain engagement points that aren’t there,” she said. “And nonprofits like LaunchCode that do workforce development, our hope is that we’re able to come in and kind of bridge that divide between a worker and then an employer.”

LaunchCode is open to more partnerships with local employers with organizations that do similar work, plus space donations. Expanding these opportunities would make it more possible to continue growing an in-person presence here in Philly, Davison said.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 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 Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: LaunchCode

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