By: Lauren Sato, CEO
In late March, UNESCO led the formation of a Global Education Coalition and the #LearningNeverStops campaign to take collective action to ensure that the necessary pivots we are making in how we deliver learning around the world doesn’t further exacerbate the socio-economic divides many of our communities face. This has been top of mind for us here at Ada, and we wanted to take a moment to lay out our plan for ensuring our program, and access to our region’s highest paying jobs, is as inclusive as possible through this crisis.
Ada is an 11 month software development program that infuses diversity into the tech industry in Seattle, Washington. There are four basic elements to our program, and our team has endeavored to ensure that each of these pieces is repositioned in this COVID-19 crisis to continue serving those who need us most.
Ada’s admissions process is incredibly rigorous, and typically involves online and in-person interviews and technical challenges. Our aim is to ensure that at least 75% of our incoming classes come from under-represented minority, LGBTQIA+, and low-income communities. In order to ensure that in this fully digital world, we are able to still hit that goal, we have:
- Partnered with organizations that are serving these communities such as YearUp, Urban League, Seattle Education Access, and Unloop to ensure the people we aim to serve know about us, and how to connect;
- Built a fully digital admission process, and have space that aligns with social distancing guidelines and computers available for those who do not have access to a computer or internet at home; and we have
- Built a fully digital prep course to support those who have not previously had access to online coding classes.
Our educational program here at Ada is really, really tough – even under the best of circumstances our students require a robust community of support in order to persist, and that community has been a critical part of the “secret sauce” that differentiates Ada from other code schools. Human connection and support is incredibly difficult in a fully remote situation, and our team has done a remarkable job of creating opportunities for students, alums, and volunteers to connect and build each other up through this time. You can read more about this important shift here.
We won’t dive into the full history of educational disparities in this blog, but you can read much more about how we got to this place where your zip code, race, gender identity, etc. determines your long-term educational outcomes here. Our academics at Ada have been very intentionally developed around meeting folks who have been held back by this achievement gap, and a large part of our solution (you can read more about our results here) is a collaborative learning model.
Because this model is so critical to our program, and to ensuring our academics are inclusive, we have taken great care to ensure that the fullness of our community translates into a digital environment. We are leveraging new tools such as Panapto, Classroom, Zoom, Slack, github, Schoology, and Trello in order to make this possible, while layering all of it with regular 1:1 support and check-ins with instructors.
The final step in all Adie’s experience is a 5 month internship at an impactful technology company. This experience solidifies our student’s classroom learning, layers on top of it real world application, and is an opportunity to learn new programming languages. 87% of the time these experiences also result in offers for full-time employment upon graduation (95% of all Adies are employed in software development roles within 180 days of graduation, making an average salary of $117,000). So, we hold this experience as an essential step to a successful Ada experience, and one that must be very intentionally inclusive. Our mission, afterall, is to Change the Face of Tech.
As we transition to this fully digital environment, we have had to reimagine elements of this program including mock interviews, industry mentorship, and company presentations. In addition to maintaining these critical elements and moving them to a digital platform, we are also adding supports such as resiliency and remote work workshops to equip all of our students to participate equally in this new world of work.
Here’s Where You Come In
Our students are working incredibly hard in this new environment, and we are doing absolutely everything we can to build inclusive solutions to these new challenges we are facing. We have, however, had to divert $30,000 in funding to make all of these changes possible, and that is funding we are now working to rebuild because our work doesn’t end when this crisis ends, and we have really big plans for growing our impact and creating many more opportunities for underrepresented minorities and marginalized communities in the future.
If you are able to support our students in their remarkable efforts to build more stable futures in careers with higher salaries, flexible work schedules and paid benefits, please join us here! And, thank you for being a part of this exemplary community.