Two U.S. veterans who have struggled with homelessness are being given a second chance to rebuild their lives thanks to a community partnership that empowers the men to master advanced coding and computer programming skills.
The grassroots initiative makes it possible for the ex-servicemen to complete an 8-week intensive, full-time, coding course at Tech Talent South’s offices in metropolitan Atlanta, where they will learn everything from HTML/CSS to Ruby on Rails.
“We have seen coding change lives, and we are excited to extend that opportunity to our veterans who truly need it,” says Richard Simms, co-founder of Tech Talent South (TTS), a coding boot camp dedicated to fostering talent in technology throughout the Southeast. “We hope to give them a valuable skill set that helps them get back on their feet.”
The initiative, a partnership between Tech Talent South, Back on My Feet, Homegrown, Veterans Empowerment Organization, Accenture, and UrbanGeekz, will serve as a lifeline for both men who have faced tough times since leaving the armed forces. The nonprofit organization Back on My Feet received a grant from Accenture to put the homeless vets through the TTS course.
Originally from Chicago, Buddy Holston, 58, joined the armed forces in 1980 and served for a decade. He says he is thrilled by the chance to gain the skills needed to start a career in technology. “I’m really excited about this,” says Holston. “I hope to become proficient in coding and be able to make practical use of those skills. After Tech Talent South, I hope to obtain employment and also share what I learn with others, particularly those in underserved communities.”
In fact, according to US News, the Labor Department considers web development to be one of the fastest-growing careers this decade, and it predicts employment will swell by about 20 percent by 2022. Given that demand, the training will give the men the opportunity to get back on track and boost their job prospects.
Holston says he has always had an interest in technology. While living at the Veterans Empowerment Organization, he even began trying to build his own Google App.“I started tinkering with my first bike. I took it apart just to put it back together. It’s the same with toy trains and tape recorders. Throughout high school and college, I liked engineering, math, and science. I always wanted to learn more.”
Atlanta native Darionne Lee, 29, received training from Job Corps before joining the armed forces in 2009. He served for 3 years. He has also worked as a Machine and Forklift Operator and dabbled in AutoCAD Programming.
“I hope to break into the tech field,” says Lee. “I have always been interested in technology. When I was in the service, I was exposed to so many different technologies and types of programs. I definitely want to learn more.”
UrbanGeekz, a digital news platform that is headquartered in Atlanta, has offered the veterans an internship after they complete their training to practice their skills and develop on-the-job training. “This is an amazing initiative to support underserved communities access a full-time, immersive coding course that’ll help expand their career options in an increasingly competitive jobs market,” says Kunbi Tinuoye, founder and CEO of UrbanGeekz.
“With this in mind, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Tech Talent South to provide internships and on-the-job training for the graduates of this uniquely tailored scheme. Computer programming and coding are sought-after skills and we are committed to supporting grassroots programs to level the playing field,” adds Tinuoye.
Classes begin October 13, 2015, and will run through December 3, 2015.
About Tech Talent South: Tech Talent South provides beginner-focused programs teaching web development and coding to adults and children throughout the South. Our goal is to bring code education to our region and empower people who are on a mission to do something BIG! Our graduates range from doctors looking for a new skill set to diplomats to people who are passionate about developing their own apps or joining the startup community. We also offer female scholarships, recent graduate scholarships, and scholarships for all around ‘rockstars’ for its code immersion programs. TTS has locations in Atlanta, GA; Alpharetta, GA; Asheville, NC; Charlotte, NC; Dallas, TX; Raleigh, NC; and New Orleans, LA.
TTS, ranked as one of the top coding boot camps in the south by Course Report and in the world by Switchup, will continue hosting classes at StrongBox West. This West Midtown coworking space will offer coding education opportunities to the neighboring community and downtown commuters among other groups. Strongbox West’s sense of community will continue to inspire and facilitate growth for TTS’s entrepreneurs and aspiring coders alike.
Back on My Feet: Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. The organization’s mission is not to create runners within the homeless population, but to use running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The program’s success is measured by how many Members obtain independence through employment, job training and housing.
Homegrown: The Homegrown Initiative is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower disadvantaged veterans by providing education and training in software development.
Veterans Empowerment Organization: Since 2008, Veterans Empowerment Organization (VEO) has provided Housing, Supportive Services, Job Training and Placement to veterans and their families. VEO’s Mission is to enhance the quality of life for all veterans on their road to attaining self-sufficiency. Learn more about how you can help support local veterans in need. Visit www.veohero.org and join VEO in “Making The Mission Possible For Veterans.”
UrbanGeekz: UrbanGeekz is a groundbreaking video-centric African American, Latino, and multicultural digital news platform focused on technology, science, and business. The first-of-its-kind online publication also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment content. The cutting edge news site aims to make technology “cool” and accessible while highlighting science, technology, engineering and math-related fields as exciting and rewarding career paths. Its mission is to promote educational achievement and career exploration in STEM communities, especially among women and underserved populations. The team is based at Atlanta Tech Village, the largest tech startup incubator in the Southeast.
Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter@Kunbiti