Imagine a Better STL: LaunchCode teaching minorities to code -

Imagine a Better STL: LaunchCode teaching minorities to code

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LaunchCode offers coding class to minorites. (Credit:KMOV). LaunchCode offers coding class to minorites. (Credit:KMOV).

ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( – A local non-profit is helping minorities become more involved in the tech industry through summer coding courses.

Jim McKelvey, founder of Square, co-founded LaunchCode in 2014 to help train skilled employees for the tech field and help companies find qualified talent. McKelvey wanted to bridge the gap between unemployment and lack of qualified talent for technology jobs.

“Every company is a software company, so there’s a need for the jobs,” said Michael Schmidt, a LaunchCode instructor.

The classes for the intensive, 20-week session are held inside LaunchCode’s mentor center on Delmar Boulevard. 

“It takes perseverance because you can get so easily frustrated. You just have to keep plugging through,” said current student Tara Robinson.

Robinson spent 20 years working in the public health sector and jumped at the opportunity of a better life for her and her teenage daughter. 

“It makes me feel really good. That’s part of a parent’s purpose. Be more, have more, do more so that you can pass it on to your children.”

Schmidt said that starting salaries are often around $60,000 and as someone becomes more established in the field salaries can get up to $130,000 a year.

The summer courses are part of a partnership with the NAACP to help students like Robinson and recruit more African-Americans into the tech industry. Organizers believe creating more opportunities for the urban core is the key to changing our community.

“Technology also can be an incentive for them to modify their behavior at home, at school, and also modify their behavior in society as a whole,” said Adolphus Pruitt, President of the NAACP.

LaunchCode also has classes focused on recruiting women to the tech industry by teaching them to code.

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