Ada was founded to close the gender gap while addressing the labor shortage in Seattle Tech. Over the course of the three and a half years that we’ve been operating, our mission has pivoted to focus on diversifying Tech in more ways than just gender. We recognize that changing the landscape of Tech must be intersectional and that our road will not be without bumps, detours, and u-turns. We believe that Ada’s role in dismantling the homogenous culture of Tech plays out not only by training qualified, diverse entry-level engineers, but also by pushing both ourselves and our partner companies to reflect on and modify inclusion practices. Every day we learn more about what works and what doesn’t. We continue to iterate and we challenge ourselves and our community to be supportive, inclusive, and life-long learners.

We can’t just forge ahead without taking the time to evaluate our successes and our failures. We must learn from our mistakes and constantly evolve in order to be successful. With every cohort we have tweaked and changed and improved.

Here’s a small sample of how our program has evolved:

-In Cohort 2, students from the first cohort organized and executed an Adie-to-Adie mentoring program that they eventually entrusted to the administration to continue.

-In Cohort 3, we introduced a regular CS Fundamentals curriculum focused on algorithms and data structures, as well as created a tutoring system.

-In Cohort 4, we started formalizing a student-focused social justice curriculum and piloted our first Inclusion Summit, training our board and our partner companies on implicit biases and how to be better allies.

-In Cohort 5, we expanded our space and went through an interview blitz to hire five new employees, doubling our staff.

-In Cohort 6, we bought on a student support counselor to address the emotional needs of our students and to flesh out our social justice curriculum. We doubled our number of admitted students per cohort for which the additional staff was crucial in allowing us to create a more operationally sustainable program. We also hired a Diversity Consultant to assess our program, specifically in relationship to our support of People of Color, and provided us with tangible short-term and long-term recommendations for program changes.

-Cohort 7 has just begun, but we just piloted our first applicant workshop, where we invited POC applicants who applied during a previous cohort to learn about Excel and how to sell themselves in their resume and essays from two of our Adies.

To be honest, in the beginning we were struggling just to keep our head above water. We had more work than we could keep up with and less people than we needed. We made mistakes, and we learned. When we reflect on how far we’ve come and how much we’ve accomplished in a short three-year span, we are both proud and humbled. It hasn’t been easy, and we know we still have growth to make and a long road ahead of us.

In early 2016, we set diversity goals to have 50+% of our student population be People of Color (POC – defined as not white) and 30+% be Underrepresented Minorities (URM – defined as Black/Latinx/Native American/Pacific Islander). Since setting these goals, we have made significant progress in diversifying our student population. We made adjustments to our processes and operations and started focusing our efforts more intentionally towards these goals, including finding better ways to support URM populations. We track many axes of diversity, but when setting our goals for 2016 we knew that we had to be strategic in selecting them.

As we set our goals for 2017, we’ve stepped back, collected, and studied our program stats.

We have spent the last few months collecting and computing our success metrics: from diversity to graduation to placement to retention. We strive to have 100% graduation and placement by graduation. We’re analyzing the trends and discussing where we’ve fallen short and what we need to change. 

Note the following:

-There are many more axes we’d like to track, but this is our start.

-For our purposes: People of Color (POC) is defined as not white and Underrepresented Minorities (URM) is defined as Black/Latinx/Native American/Pacific Islander and is a subset of POC.

-Students who do not graduate are counted in the cohort in which they began the program.

-Students who defer to a later cohort are counted in the cohort with which they graduate.

-After the reporting of diversity percentages, each breakdown of numbers is presented in 4 categories: overall average, average for white students, average for POC students and average for URM students. So for example, in Cohort 1, 93.75% of admitted students graduated (15 out of 16), but only 66.67% of admitted URM students graduated (2 out of 3).

Conversion from Intern to FT represents the percentage of students who accept an offer as a full-time developer at the company where they interned. Every Ada graduate participates in a 5-6 month internship (6 months for Cohort 1 and 2, 5 months for Cohorts 3 and beyond).

-Students can have several outcomes after graduation, including: accepting a full-time (FT) developer role, accepting a subject-matter-adjacent role (e.g. Technical PM), deciding to work as a contractor, continuing their education through another program, or not finding employment in a related field. Accepting a FT dev job represents the percentage of students who move into full-time, paid development work. Subject-matter-adjacent roles, contract positions, and continuing education (e.g. LEAP, Floodgate) are not considered full-time development work in this context.

Average base salary represents the base salary compensation for graduates accepting a full-time developer role. Students who do not report their salary data are excluded from this average.

Placement Period is the six months immediately following a student’s graduation in which we track what a graduate does after graduation.

Canonical Placement represents the placement rate for graduates, excluding any students who are still in their Placement Period. A student is deemed “placed” if they 1) accept a full-time (FT) developer role, 2) accept a subject-matter-adjacent role (e.g. Technical PM), 3) accept work as a contractor, 4) decide to be an entrepreneur starting their own business, or 5) continue their education through another program that pays a monthly salary greater than $6,500. A breakdown of the number of students excluded and when students actually find placement is broken down in the Placement Time Breakdown.

Return to Job Search <1 yr represents the percentage of graduates who return to the job search within one year of graduation. So for example, in Cohort 2, 9.09% of graduates returned to the job search after graduating (2 out of 22). 28.57% of POC graduates returned to the job search (2 out of 7) and 50% of URM graduates returned to the job search (1 out of 2).

Received job support post-initial placement represents the percentage of graduates who have been supported through networking connections and career advice post-graduation and post-initial placement (FT dev, subject matter adjacent, contract work, or continued paid education). Every graduate is supported in finding their first placement.

Just as we will ask our companies to reflect on the trends of POC and URM graduates entering industry, we also challenge ourselves to take a close look at why our POC and URM students have a lower graduation rate. We are also comparing this data to the global bootcamp community and how our outcomes compare, but that doesn’t mean we are going to stop trying to be better.

This data gives us hard evidence of both our successes and our failures. We must continue to hone our ability to support all our students, particularly those who experience hardships not only systemically, but also institutionally within our very walls. As we look forward, we must be better and we must do the work to create success for all of our students equitably. We also feel it is important for our company sponsors to continue their work to further diversify and create inclusive environments that successfully hire and retain talent, particularly those who are underrepresented. We will continue to work with our company partners on providing our students with great internship experiences and post graduate opportunities. As our Adie community grows, we also look forward to evaluating ways in which we can support better retention in the industry – post graduation – for all students.

Included below (and here) is a report of our findings.