New York on Tech’s Tech Flex Leaders Prorgam is a profiled program in the Plugging In Report.
Who is served: Students in grades 10—12 from schools throughout the city where at least 50 percent of the population is eligible for free and reduced price lunch. Majority of participants are Black and Latinx.
Location: In and out of school; multiple companies, community organizations and schools in all 5 boroughs
Frequency/Duration: Tech 360 Squad: fall and spring sessions each run for 10 weeks, once or twice per week in person plus 2 hours in additional homework/coursework; Tech Flex Leaders: September–June, every Saturday for 5 hours.
Eligibility Criteria: Tech 360 Squad: 10th or 11th grader in a NYC high school who is interested in careers in web design/computer science/technology, and able to demonstrate dedication, passion and leadership. Tech Flex Leaders: 10th or 11th grader in a NYC high school at the time of application who is interested in careers in computer science/technology, available for workshops after school or on weekends once per week during school year, eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and able to demonstrate dedication, passion and leadership
Outcomes: Students leave the program with a portfolio of technology projects they’ve created and have the opportunity to apply for internships with the companies they’ve been embedded in. Tech 360 Squad alumni have priority eligibility into Tech Flex Leaders program.
Partnerships: General Assembly, Teach for America, Girl Scouts, Google, Morgan Stanley, Vodafone, Facebook, Consensys
Sources of funding: Private
What makes the program stand out? “We really see ourselves as like a General Assembly, but a nonprofit model,” said co-founder Jessica Santana. Participants in both Tech Flex Leaders and 360 Squad are embedded in tech companies around the city, and as a result they come away well positioned for internships and careers.
Tech 360 Squad cohorts meet once or twice weekly at partner companies for a course in the fundamentals of web design and development taught by a tech-industry professional. Participants have priority admission to Tech Flex Leaders, a CS-focused nine-month program in which students take classes at tech companies and are also mentored by company employees, with the opportunity to apply for internships.
New York on Tech also runs similar programs in high schools across the 5 boroughs, but mainly in the Bronx and Manhattan. “Schools choose which track of the curriculum they want us to teach to their students,” said Santana. The organization does the same for community-based organizations, like the Girl Scouts, that want to incorporate computer science into their programming.
What do participants need to succeed? Active mentorship within tech companies, and help overcoming overcome imposter syndrome.
What does the organization need? “Every year, we have to turn students away, and not because they don’t meet our criteria. We just don’t have the capacity,” said Santana. “If we had the funding we could reach as many students as we want.”