Introducing the #YesWeCode Fund

Just last week at SXSW, The Iron Yard joined leaders from DreamCorps, #YesWeCode, TechHire and TechSquare Labs to announce that applications for the newly renamed #YesWeCode Fund are now open.

The #YesWeCode Fund was initially launched as the Tech Opportunity Fund in September 2016 and is a collaboration between The Iron Yard, Code Fellows, Operation HOPE, Opportunity Ecosystem, Climb Credit, TechSquare Labs, We Can Code IT and #YesWeCode. By unifying the efforts of code schools, government, civic organizations and employers, the goal of the Fund is to increase diversity in the tech industry by removing financial barriers and increasing access to tech education.

This is a huge goal and The Iron Yard is a proud founding partner of the Fund. The Iron Yard's CEO, Peter Barth said it best: "Creating an inclusive tech workforce can only be achieved if all stakeholders in the tech sector are represented in the solution. By uniting the efforts of employers, educators, government and civic organizations in the Fund, we can both inspire people who are currently underrepresented in the industry to choose tech as a career and empower them to pursue that goal through a full-tuition scholarship to attend a code school."

Today, we sat down with Sam Kapila, Director of Instruction at The Iron Yard, to talk more about the #YesWeCode Fund and The Iron Yard's diversity initiatives. Sam was also a participant in the panel at SXSW, where the Fund was launched.


Why is diversity and inclusion important for the tech industry

Sam: Tech impacts just about every facet of our life - from how we communicate, travel and work, to how we learn and socialize. It only makes sense that the creators of technology, reflect the users of technology. Not to mention, study after study has shown that diversity is good for business.

Right now, industry statistics are pretty abysmal: Compared to overall private industry, the high tech sector employs a larger share of whites (63.5 percent to 68.5 percent), Asian Americans (5.8 percent to 14 percent) and men (52 percent to 64 percent), and a smaller share of African Americans (14.4 percent to 7.4 percent), Hispanics (13.9 percent to 8 percent), and women (48 percent to 36 percent).

I know we can do better. In order to make a true impact, this issue has to be addressed at all levels - from education and training to hiring practices. That's where the #YesWeCode Fund comes in.

Why was it so important for The Iron Yard to help launch this Fund?

Sam: We take diversity and inclusion seriously at The Iron Yard. As an organization that exists to create change through technology education, we have a responsibility to take action to ensure the workforce we help train is inclusive and representative of the diverse communities we serve. Empowering people of all backgrounds and means with the opportunity to learn to code, and subsequently pursue a career in tech, is an important step in the right direction for creating a more inclusive workforce.

As a company, we recognized that we were in a position to help make this happen, so it was really important for us to lead the way and organize other schools and organizations, so that we can make strides toward this goal together.

Who is this Fund intended to support?

Sam: The Fund is intended to support groups that are commonly discriminated against in tech: people of color and people who identify as female. Access to tech can be expensive, so we want to make the Fund's scholarships available to those with financial need and lower their barrier of entry into the development field.

How can other code schools or employers get involved?

Sam: We'd love to work with more schools, civic organizations, and employers across the country to increase the number of students we can serve and support through their journey to become developers. Anyone who is interested in participating can contact us at info@yeswecodefund.com to learn more about partnerships.

Ready to apply for a #YesWeCode Fund scholarship? To receive a scholarship, applicants will need to first be accepted into a participating code school through that program's standard admissions process. Students will then receive a link to apply for the scholarship from the participating program. Visit the #YesWeCode Fund website for more information: http://www.yeswecodefund.com/scholarship-process/ or reach out to info@yeswecodefund.com with questions.

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