At Codecademy, we believe that learning to code is about more than just picking up a new skill. It’s about transforming ourselves, our communities, and the world around us.
That’s why we were proud to sponsor a virtual class hackathon with Pursuit, a Queens-based organization that trains adults from under-represented backgrounds to become software engineers. In their words, “Pursuit creates transformation where it’s needed most.”
Pursuit believes that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic background. Pursuit Fellows are 70% Black or Latinx, 40% are immigrants, and the majority have been public assistance recipients. On average, they increase their average salaries from $18,000 to over $85,000. The hackathon participants started the program nine months ago with little to no coding knowledge. They give up their evenings and weekends in order to learn, while also holding down full-time jobs and raising families — in the middle of a global pandemic!
Codecademy contributed prize money and Pro subscriptions to the hackathon, but more importantly, we contributed our people. People from our engineering, product, curriculum, and business development teams volunteered the weekend working with Pursuit Fellows as technical mentors and judges.
We had the honor to work closely with incredibly smart, creative, and hard-working Fellows as they pushed themselves to learn new things and achieve more than they believed they could. After 48 hours of hacking, we celebrated with a virtual demo night, which you can watch here:
The Fellows showcased apps that addressed important real-world problems: staying informed about COVID-19, supporting reopening restaurants, surfacing online reviews about discriminatory businesses, or just finding new music to listen to while you’re stuck at home.
One of the team’s favorite moments from the hackathon happened when the judges left the Zoom room to deliberate. The Fellows unmuted themselves for a Q&A with the session hosts and remote viewers. They shared honest and moving stories about their hackathon experiences: their fears and frustrations, their struggles, the joys of seeing something finally work, and the pride they felt in how much they’d learned and achieved. Many tears of joy were shed.
Codecademy team members have been closely involved with Pursuit for a couple of years now, helping with everything from hackathons to capstone projects to whiteboard practice and workshops on technical skills. We’re excited to continue our partnership with Pursuit and we can’t wait to see the impact the Fellows have on the tech industry!