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More coding boot camps coming to NM high schools

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At left, Krieg Benally with Cultivating Coders helps Marissa Shorty at Shiprock High School. (Steve Lewis/The Daily Times via AP)

A $25,000 Albuquerque Community Foundation grant and a new partnership with Santa Fe-based nonprofits will rope more students and young adults into Cultivating Coders’ boot camps next year.

Cultivating Coders, which offers intensive eight-week training workshops for aspiring web and software developers in underserved communities, will use the Community Foundation grant to support a summer course next year for at least 20 high school students in Albuquerque, founder and president Charles Ashley III said.

“We’ll work with the Native American Community Academy and two or three other local high schools to offer a summer school camp for students,” Ashley said. “The $25,000 grant covers a part of the course. We’re working with other partners as well on contributions.”

The grant came from the foundation’s new Social Giving Club, which launched this year to allow individuals to pool contributions to benefit a local nonprofit of their choice, said vice president Kelli Cooper. Contributors donate $1,000 each. Half goes into a permanent endowment, and the rest is pooled for one large grant at year-end.

The foundation collected donations from 50 people, who unanimously voted for Cultivating Coders given its focus on helping Native Americans and other underserved groups through training and skills that can lead to immediate, high-paying jobs.

“That had overwhelming support,” Cooper said.

Three or four more boot camps are also planned for northern New Mexico next year, thanks to a new partnership with New Mexico TechWorks, which unites nonprofits and government agencies in an effort to expand tech-sector employment opportunities and career pathways.

The Santa Fe-based Community Learning Network and Startup Santa Fe worked together to create TechWorks, which received official recognition this month as one of 70 communities involved in the White House’s nationwide TechHire Initiative.

Learning Network director and educator Jennifer Nevarez said Cultivating Coders is a “natural fit” for the initiative.

“It provides intensive training in different languages for people to graduate as software developers in just eight weeks,” Nevarez said. “It offers tools for people to either continue their education or immediately start working.”

Cultivating Coders has trained 55 people since launching in Albuquerque last December, most of them Native American and the majority of them women.

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