December 17, 2014
St.Louis-based non-profit LaunchCode is expanding to Miami, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to address the issue of brain drain in South Florida’s growing tech community. The program matches technologists with local companies through paid apprenticeships. The Knight Foundation is investing $1.25 million, over three years, to support the Miami opening early next year.
“The mission of LaunchCode is to take the entire economy and change it from one of scarcity of technical talent to at least neutrality if not abundance,” said Jim McKelvey, founder, and co-founder of Square in a recent interview with The Starting Gate.
LaunchCode has hired a coordinator to lead the local expansion effort and has partnered with Miami Dade College’s new entrepreneurship hub, the Idea Center.
How the program typically works is that someone interested in a job will come with some programming skills, and LaunchCode reviews their skills and see if any additional education is needed. For this, they have has partnered with Wyncode and Ironhack. The candidate is then matched to a company that fits the skills and needs.
“What we really like about LaunchCode is how it provides the opportunity to reach into all the communities across Miami, particularly the underserved communities, and provide people a way to get the skills to then move into really compelling jobs in tech,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation.
Since launching in St. Louis in 2013, 90 percent of the program’s 130 placements found full-time positions. “Nearly half of the people LaunchCode placed were unemployed before joining the program, and 42 percent did not have a college degree,” McKelvey said.
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