Coding Their Way to a New Future

People in Central Ohio are taking their career paths in a new direction thanks to the support and guidance of i.c.stars|*Columbus. The organization is creating new employees for 21st Century jobs in Ohio with training sessions to teach coding.

These digital literacy workshops are targeting Columbus area Minority Business Enterprises in partnership with area minority serving business support organizations. Technology jobs are on so much of a rise, there’s a problem. Children and young adults don’t have the access they need to reach the computer science industries. According to Computer Science Education Week, only one in four schools is teaching computer programming. At the college level, fewer than 3% of graduates hold a degree in computer science. Women only make up 22% of computer science students, and only 13% are African American or Hispanic.

i.c.stars|*Columbus is seeing results. One graduate who was able to successfully start his journey is now giving back to the organization that put him on this path. “Entering this program felt like drinking from a fire hydrant at first with all the information and tasks to complete. It was entering a different world” said Aaron Mackey, Recruiting Manager and Marketing Specialist for i.c.stars|*Columbus.

“It was an intense process, but we were truly set up to succeed.”

“Once we were able to complete projects for a Fortune 500 company, it confirmed in my mind that we could truly do whatever was put in front of us.” Mackey now works for the program by serving as a recruiter and working on the marketing team. “When I started, I wanted to find the best job possible and make as much money as possible. That changed into a priority of giving back, making sure others have the same opportunity to lift themselves up. To have people come up to you and thank you for changing their life is an amazing blessing.”

The program recently received support through the KeyBank Boost & Build program, powered by JumpStart. A grant worth $100,000 was awarded to help fund the coding boot camps. The program is focusing on grants throughout Ohio to help create jobs, and to help communities thrive.

i.c.stars began in 1999 in Chicago, but expanded to the Columbus area in 2016. Since it began, i.c.stars has seen a job placement rate of 90%. The 400 individuals who have graduated have seen their incomes rise an average of 400%.

“This organization’s effort to continue training underserved diverse populations in Central Ohio is propelling them to high impact IT careers, filling talent gaps in our community,”

said Kimberly Gayle, i.c.stars|*Columbus Executive Director. “The ability to share technology expertise with area minority businesses will strengthen their capacity to compete economically in the market place.”