We kicked off our first partnership with the City of Grand Rapids almost exactly a year ago. That partnership was designed to grow Grand Rapids’ tech talent by increasing our outreach to arm folks with basic coding skills and knowledge of technology careers. Since May 2018, the Rising TIDE project has trained nearly 500 people in basic coding skills. This program has made it possible for many to continue with advanced training and start a new career in technology.
Timing is Everything
We talked a lot about barriers to training in our initial meetings. Luckily, the Rising TIDE Grants are available to residents with financial need. They offset the cost of bootcamp tuition and provide stipends for things like loaner laptops, transportation needs and childcare assistance.
Over the last year the City of Grand Rapids established its first Office of Innovation. This team is tasked with testing new technologies and ways to deliver services to the community, updating and improving their open-sourced data portal, and working with external stakeholders to improve local and regional issues.
This got us thinking. A new office committed to service delivery and partnerships, our community’s interest in coding skills and careers as evidenced by the success of Rising TIDE, and the positive reception we have with employers made us think we could do more together to prepare local talent for new careers in tech. The first exploration meeting with City officials was alive with energy and possibility – and the Grand Circus Front-End After-Hours Bootcamp in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids was born.
A Bootcamp for All
This bootcamp teaches Front-End programming with an After-Hours schedule. It was important to us and the city that working adults could access this training. It meets in the evenings from 6:30 – 10pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from October 2019 – March 2020. Students will also receive career services to successfully prepare for and execute their job search.
Grand Circus provides a number of pre-bootcamp workshops to help folks prepare for the bootcamp application process — and are required to be eligible for grant funding. The first, Intro to Coding Workshops, are designed for people curious about code but have little to no experience. Our more advanced workshops build upon the basics to help students learn more advanced concepts and experience coding web pages from scratch.
Students in the Front-End After-Hours Bootcamp in partnership with the City will enjoy three other unique program aspects.
Special Bootcamp Features
#1 Use Open-Sourced Data to Build Projects
Employers tell us that they want to see student projects that center around real-world business cases as much as possible. Students in this Front-End After-Hours Bootcamp will build a final project using data collected by the City to solve a real world problem while showing off their coding skills.
#2 Interact with SmartZone Businesses
It’s important for all of our bootcamp students to interact with diverse employers. Through employer panels, bootcamp students will interact with companies in the City’s SmartZone, a specially designated zone that contains high-tech high-growth businesses. Students will benefit by hearing directly from experienced industry professionals and forming relationships during the bootcamp experience.
#3 Learn from City Employees
Most people don’t think of city government when they think of technology and innovation. However, the City has robust customer service responsibilities, many of which utilize a combination of software and hardware. Employees from the City’s information technology and innovation departments will give students unique insight on relevant topics like coding for the customer experience, quality data, data collection, governance structure and more.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to start a career in tech, join us on Wednesday, August 14th for our event ”How to Earn a Career in Tech without a Degree.” Then, join us for a special Info Session with the City of Grand Rapids to hear about the types of data they collect and see a student project demo. Register for the August 22nd Info Session here.