Nonprofit Coding Bootcamps
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Reviewed by Angelique Geehan
Coding bootcamps have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Since they first hit the scene in the early 2010s as a way to quickly train or re-skill for a tech career, the variety of coding bootcamps has expanded significantly.
Just like with college degree programs, you can find online coding bootcamps and in-person programs with full-time and part-time options. You can even find self-paced bootcamps.
A big difference between college and a coding bootcamp, though, is accreditation. Unlike the top colleges and universities, bootcamps aren't typically accredited. Additionally, they are usually operated as for-profit companies rather than nonprofit organizations.
However, some nonprofit coding bootcamps do exist. In this guide, we'll explore why you may want to look for a nonprofit bootcamp. We also highlight some popular nonprofit coding bootcamp options so you can find the right fit.
Why Attend a Nonprofit Coding Bootcamp?
There are several reasons why a prospective bootcamp student may want to seek out a nonprofit for their tech training.
The tech industry still has a long way to go to achieve a diverse workforce. A 2014 report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that high-tech companies employed a lower percentage of women, Hispanics, and African Americans than companies overall across all industries. The report also found that about 80% of tech executives were men, and about 83% were white.
In the years since, big tech firms seem to have made little progress in addressing their diversity shortfalls, according to CNBC. For instance, CNBC reports that the number of Black employees working at Facebook increased from just 3% to 3.8% between 2014 and 2020. This is much lower than the overall population share of Black or African American people in the U.S., according to recent United States Census Bureau estimates (13.4%).
Nonprofit coding bootcamps often focus their mission on bridging this gap, offering programs exclusively for those who belong to groups that have been historically marginalized by the tech industry. Many bootcamps also offer financial support that is reserved for these learners.
Prospective students may want to learn in an environment where they aren't the "only one" of their race, gender, or ethnicity. Since bootcamp student demographics tend to align closely with the tech industry at large, seeking out a program that specifically seeks to address diversity imbalances may be the best bet for students looking to learn to code with peers who share similar experiences.
Programs that focus on supporting underserved students may be able to provide mentorship opportunities, alumni networks, and career support services tailored to the needs of women, LGBTQ+ people, and students of color.
Peace of Mind
Bootcamps are largely unregulated and unaccredited. Although many bootcamps share some information about graduates, important student outcomes data like graduation rates and graduate employment rates may be missing or inflated.
Additionally, financial products popular with coding bootcamps, like deferred tuition plans and income share agreements, also operate in a largely unregulated manner — many consumer advocacy groups are concerned about a potential lack of consumer protections.
Given these aspects of the bootcamp industry, students may be wary of for-profit bootcamps. If you want the peace of mind of attending a bootcamp with a less strong profit motive, a nonprofit bootcamp may be a good fit.
Many for-profit bootcamps come with a steep price tag. Based on data from about 130 bootcamp providers collected by BestColleges in 2020, the median coding bootcamp tuition was $13,500. Bootcamps can easily cost upwards of $20,000 or even $30,000.
While some for-profit bootcamps come with low tuition — and some nonprofit bootcamps are on the more expensive side of the spectrum — many nonprofit programs feature lower costs and/or significant coding scholarship opportunities.
Nonprofit coding bootcamps often have a mission to teach absolute beginners and those without a college degree. While you can certainly find for-profit bootcamps that do not require previous coding experience, getting into top for-profit bootcamps can be a competitive process; these options end up training many students who already have a college degree or some tech experience.
Featured Nonprofit Coding Bootcamps
Ada Developers Academy
Ada Developers Academy offers free coding bootcamps for women, nonbinary individuals, and trans individuals. The nonprofit organization also prioritizes admitting Black, Latine, Indigenous American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, and low-income individuals.
As part of the program, students complete a capstone project to demonstrate their new tech skills. They also participate in a five-month paid internship with a partner company. Ada Developers Academy reports that an average of 78% of their students receive employment offers from the companies that they intern with after the internship ends.
Code Platoon offers technical training to veterans, service members, and military spouses. Its full-stack software engineering bootcamp can be taken in person in Chicago or remotely. This program lasts 14 weeks. The in-person option includes a paid apprenticeship program and local networking events. Students can also take the bootcamp as a 28-week, part-time program, or they can take a self-paced version of the curriculum for free.
Code Platoon offers several partial and full scholarships to help cover the $16,000 tuition. Scholarships are available for veterans, military spouses, Black and/or Hispanic veterans and military spouses, female veterans, transgender veterans and transgender military spouses, and active-duty service members during their last six months of active duty.
Kal Academy is a nonprofit coding bootcamp based just outside Seattle, Washington. Kal Academy serves women and underserved minorities. It offers 16-week programs in software development, full-stack web development, and artificial intelligence. Tuition is only $2,500, making it one of the cheapest coding bootcamps around.
Kal Academy also offers individual courses in programming, web and mobile development, data analysis, and technical interview prep for $420. Prospective students do not need any technical experience to take a class or bootcamp.
Nashville Software School
Students at Nashville Software School can choose between part-time and full-time bootcamps in data analytics, data science, front-end web design/development, and web development.
The Nashville-based bootcamp serves a mostly local student population, and 90% of graduates stay in the area after completing their program. Nashville Software School has ties to local employers, with more than 300 area businesses hiring its grads.
Through a deferred tuition plan, referred to as the Nashville Opportunity Tuition plan, students with financial need can qualify for a $2,400 scholarship. Recipients must pay $1,500 upfront for the program. Then, once they graduate and find a job, they repay the remaining $8,000 tuition balance. If the student does not graduate or can't find a job, Nashville Software School will waive the balance.
The organization also provides laptops and living stipends for students, and it guarantees a job placement with a local company for graduates of the program. Techtonica offers diversity and inclusion training for all companies where graduates find employment.
Techtonica shares that 92% of program participants have been people of color, and 25% have been individuals with a disability. You can view more demographic statistics in Techtonica's yearly impact reports.
Zip Code Wilmington
Although tuition for Zip Code Wilmington costs $12,000, the bootcamp offers a number of financial assistance programs. Students at or below 200% of the national poverty level are eligible to receive a needs-based scholarship that covers the $6,000 fee that is required upfront. These students may also be able to receive biweekly stipends to help cover living expenses while taking the program.
Additionally, students who begin an apprenticeship or job with a Zip Code Wilmington partner company may have the $6,000 tuition balance paid for by their new employer.
Other Nonprofit Coding Bootcamps
You can also explore these other notable nonprofit bootcamps.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nonprofit Coding Bootcamps
Can I learn to code for free?
Are there bootcamps just for women?
Yes! Ada Developers Academy is a nonprofit coding bootcamp for women and gender-expansive individuals. Hackbright Academy and The Grace Hopper Program also provide coding bootcamps for women, nonbinary individuals, and trans individuals. You can also find coding organizations for women that host events, education opportunities, and networking for women in tech.
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Angelique Geehan works to support and repair the connections people have to themselves and their families, communities, and cultural practices. A queer, Asian, gender-binary, nonconforming parent, Geehan founded Interchange, a consulting group that offers anti-oppression support. She organizes as part of several groups, including National Perinatal Association's Health Equity Workgroup, the Health and Healing Justice Committee of the National Queer and Trans Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, QTPOC+ Family Circle, and BatalĂˇ Houston.
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