African-American communities working together, bringing diversity, and bridging gaps in the technology space were finally realized in the life of software engineer, Max Johnson. At no easy feat, Johnson’s determination, financial support from singer and songwriter Ne-Yo and countless members of the Holberton School earned this once homeless man the start of a career in the field of engineering. As an alternative to the traditional university setting, the San Francisco, CA based Holberton School is a project-based learning center with a purpose to educate and encourage computer science and other related technology based careers.
Having already raised more than $4M from multiple investors, Grammy winner and pop-singer Ne-Yo’s financial investments also include him joining its board of trustees further supporting the cause and as a pledge to increase the enrollments of minority students. Holberton’s teaching’s influence integrity, innovative insight into technology and the opportunity for otherwise under-represented individuals to be immersed in professional sectors once thought to be impossible. According to the New York Times the learning center doesn’t require students entering to have already earned field degrees, a technology background, or even be in the typical financial situation to afford the program. This innovative model affords students to concentrate on studies while also introducing technology to those otherwise would not have access to. As such, the center works with students to achieve goals and fulfill dreams. Concerning the cost of tuition, it said that students are only asked to pay back 17% of their salary for three years once they’ve earned an annual salary of at least $40K.
Along with a number of other candidates, Max Johnson was brought in to work in the experimental two-year program with the purpose of creating a diverse group of technology driven engineers aiming to place them in some of the industry’s top technology-based companies including the likes of Apple, NASA, and LinkedIn. While attending the center and unable to afford increasing bay area rents, Johnson was living out of his car but he never gave up on his goals.
The center is actively raising more funds to expand its engineering focus. Finances being a common challenge in any entrepreneurial endeavor, Holbertson has created a unique opportunity and business model sure to be followed in coming years. The center clearly demonstrates the power of know-how, a smart workplace, meeting others in the middle forging towards success, and a real sense of community.