Rockhurst University Offers LaunchCode’s Aspiring Coders a New Home

Monday, July 16, 2018
Student working on laptop

There’s no getting around it — the world needs more coders. Technology is an industry in need of qualified employees, capable of powering the software and hardware that the world increasingly relies on.

That’s as true in Kansas City as any number of other cities in the U.S. — according to the Kansas City Tech Council’s annual Tech Specs report, thousands of jobs in the tech sector remain unfilled each year. In 2013, LaunchCode was founded in St. Louis by Square’s Jim McKelvey as a way to reduce the barriers many job seekers face to the tech job market by offering free courses in coding as well as apprenticeships and other career help.

In 2016, LaunchCode expanded to Kansas City as a result of grant funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and H&R Block. Now, they have a new home in the city — and the beginning of a new partnership — at Rockhurst University. Starting with the program’s basic LC101 course in August, LaunchCode Kansas City’s courses will be taught on the Rockhurst University campus, its first course offering on a four-year college campus.

“What LaunchCode does is remove barriers people face to working in the tech industry,” said Kelly Winzer, LaunchCode candidate engagement manager. “We really focus on helping people who have doors closed on them. The opportunity to move our classes to Rockhurst helps cement a partnership between two institutions with a basic, common goal of making people’s lives better.”

On average, 38 percent of LaunchCode’s Kansas City students do not have a college degree, 32 percent identify as female, 40 percent identify as people of color and 30 percent were previously unemployed before enrolling. Cheryl McConnell, Ph.D., the dean of the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University, said the shared mission to serve the community through education made the decision to provide a space on campus an easy one.

“I could not say yes fast enough,” she said. “LaunchCode mirrors a lot of what the Helzberg School is doing in terms of carving out a niche in tech and data-driven education. But, perhaps even more crucially, we share a belief in the power that a quality education can have in changing a person’s life.”

Having access to the Rockhurst University campus means that LaunchCode can expand, offering additional spaces for qualified students in the 20-week long courses that meet two nights a week and that are taught by experienced software developers. And it opens up the potential for a closer relationship in the future.

“I think we have an opportunity to grow together,” McConnell said. “There are some obvious areas where we can collaborate, and we are looking forward to making the most of those opportunities in the future.”

Registration for LaunchCode’s LC101 course beginning Aug. 13 closes July 25. Learn more here.