Tech companies have made remarkable innovations in the last several years, changing the way we shop, communicate and travel. But the industry has struggled to maintain a diverse workforce in spite of their promises to do better (looking at you, Facebook and Apple).
That is why Flatiron School, a New York-based institution that teaches in-demand tech skills like software engineering, cybersecurity and UX/UI design, just launched an "access scholarship" for students from underserved communities. Applications for the program opened Tuesday.
“Diversity in tech matters for a wide range of reasons, from helping us form more inclusive communities to building better products. Unfortunately, low-income and minority representation in tech is beyond low,” Flatiron School CEO Adam Enbar told Built In. “In order to bridge the gap, and have talent of all types be represented in the real world, having access to quality, affordable education is table stakes.”
The plan is to invest more than $1.5 million to serve more than 500 students across all 10 of its campuses in 2020, reducing barriers to entry for underrepresented communities and encouraging interested students to pursue careers in the tech industry.
The Access Scholarship program offers students the option to defer tuition payments, providing $3,000 to each scholarship recipient to help cover the initial cost of enrollment.
To qualify, an applicant must have a below average household income for their area or be a part of an underrepresented group in tech. This includes women, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, veterans and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Flatiron School also says that, in order to bring “fresh perspectives and new backgrounds to the tech community,” scholarships will only be awarded to individuals who have no past experience in the technical role they’re being trained for.
This is not the first program of its kind at Flatiron School. In 2018, the school piloted a similar software engineering program from its campus in Brooklyn called Access Labs. Those who graduated and went on to careers in tech earned an average salary of more than $78,000 a year.
The school says it hopes these efforts will build off the success of its pilot program and help foster a new, more diverse tech workforce.
“Our guiding principle is that talent is something that’s distributed evenly — regardless of background or financial situation — but opportunity is not,” Enbar said. “Through Access Scholarship, we’ll be opening doors for aspiring innovators who may have experienced barriers to a tech education. The opportunity to remove roadblocks for talented, motivated individuals is one we don’t take lightly — we’re excited to empower the next generation of tech talent.”