Author Archives: Jake Schwartz

About Jake Schwartz

Jake Schwartz is the co-founder and chief executive officer of General Assembly. As a specialized educational institution for 21st century skills in data, design, business and technology, General Assembly (GA) is empowering a global community to pursue work they love through best-in-class instruction and access to opportunities. GA works with students online and in person across 25 campuses around the world and hundreds of companies as partners in course development and graduate placement as well as through GA’s corporate training and development business. General Assembly was named as the number one most innovative company in education by Fast Company in 2015. Schwartz was named E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, and was recently named one of Crain’s “40 under 40." He earned a B.A. in American Studies from Yale in 2000 and a M.B.A. in Entrepreneurial Management from Wharton in 2008.

General Assembly’s Global Community

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General Assembly is an international community, made up of over 1 million technologists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators, and creators from all over the world. GA was was founded on a global vision of the world that represents how people today work and live — and it’s clear that the future of tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship will only reach its full potential through a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Our community gathers at many of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world, like Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, Sydney, and Toronto. We strive to ensure that the GA community is not just a reflection of the world today, but of the world we want to see in the future.

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Measuring What Matters: General Assembly’s First Student Outcomes Report

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Since founding General Assembly in 2011, I’ve heard some incredible stories from our students and graduates. One of my favorites is about Jerome Hardaway. Jerome came to GA after five years in the United States Air Force. He dreamed of tackling persistent diversity gaps in the technology sector by breaking down barriers for other veterans and people of color.

In 2014, with the help of General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund scholarship, Jerome began one of our full-time Web Development Immersive courses. After graduation, he had the opportunity to pitch President Obama at the first-ever White House Demo Day and has launched a nonprofit in Nashville, Vets Who Code, which helps veterans navigate the transition to civilian life through
technology skills training.

Exceptional stories like Jerome’s embody GA’s mission of “empowering people to pursue the work they love.” It’s a mission that motivates our instructional designers, faculty, mentors, and career coaches. It also inspired the development of an open source reporting framework which defined GA’s approach to measuring student outcomes and now, our first report with verified student outcomes metrics.

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Our Network Just Got A Lot Bigger

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Teaching and learning at General Assembly

Today, General Assembly is making a couple of big announcements.

First, we have closed on our company’s first acquisition — Canadian tech and design career accelerator, Bitmaker. We’ve known the folks at Bitmaker for a long time and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the way their CEO, Andrew Mawer, has built his Toronto-based organization. I’ve watched him lead his team and grow their community to become Canada’s largest career accelerator, and I’m so excited to have them be part of GA as we continue to pursue our long-term vision around education-to-employment.

Second, we are announcing the largest expansion of our campus footprint in GA’s history — we are increasing our number of campuses by over 60%. Our ongoing mission is to impact people’s careers and more broadly solve the talent needs of employers everywhere. We see big opportunities to leverage our burgeoning online communities and audiences with new campuses that are closer to the biggest pockets of potential students, just outside of traditional urban hotspots more commonly associated with the tech sector.

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Series D and Looking Forward

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General Assembly started as a small project in the heart of NYC—we set out to build a community of entrepreneurs and creators in our city’s burgeoning ecosystem. I’m in awe of the evolution we’ve seen take place—in 5 years we’ve become a global organization, now equipping tens of thousands of students with the skills they need to succeed in the new economy.

At this time of great debate around the future of higher education and workforce development, our worldwide team has succeeded in creating and scaling a model solely focused on bridging education to employment. But we are even more ambitious about our future goals: To make a visible dent in the skills gap, clearly connecting education and employment to show an ROI positive model of higher education, and build our alumni community into one of the most powerful professional networks in the world.

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General Assembly Licensed by the State of California

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Student working at our new campus in San Francisco

Student working at our new campus in San Francisco

In early 2014, there was some press coverage and debate when coding “bootcamps” and other tech skills training programs in the Bay Area came under examination by the State of California’s regulatory agency for postsecondary education. At that point, GA had already commenced its efforts to comply with the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) requirements, and we saw it as a positive step for consumer protection and quality in our fledgling industry. Since then, we have been working diligently with state officials, and today we are proud to announce that General Assembly is officially the first (and only) school of its kind to be licensed by the State of California.

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Opportunity Fund Expands With New Partners

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By now it’s clear that the technology industry is facing diversity issues. These issues are even more intriguing when you consider that by 2020, traditional universities will only provide enough qualified graduates to fill 30 percent of tech-related jobs. This is why we believe General Assembly’s own philanthropic fellowship program, Opportunity Fund, represents a tremendous chance to create real impact and change.

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Opportunity Fund Partners With Capital One As Part Of $150 Million Initiative

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Today, at our global headquarters in New York City, Capital One announced that we are one of the first recipients of funding from their $150 million Future Edge initiative. This is an exciting milestone for General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund, which helps enable and encourage individuals from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds to participate in our Web Development Immersive and User Experience Design Immersive.

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A New Initiative: The GA Credentialing Network

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Since General Assembly’s founding, we’ve seen that both students and employers need a clear, unbiased way to gauge candidates’ skill sets. For years now, our talented curriculum team has worked at building more and more effective internal assessments to help our students and instructors understand and learn from the progress made and skills achieved in our programs. Today we are announcing our intention to make that work more public and useful beyond our own walls. After building a network of more than 150,000 instructors, students, alumni, and employers around the world, and several years of truly global and hands-on experience delivering world-class education in practical skills, this is the next logical step for our community, and for the ecosystem at large.

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General Assembly Announces Expansion of Opportunity Fund

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As General Assembly continues to grow, one of the initiatives that I’m most excited about is Opportunity Fund, which offers scholarships to underrepresented groups in the tech industry to participate in GA’s Web Development Immersive. GA is a global community of individuals empowered to pursue the work they love, and I am passionate about finding new ways to open our doors to diverse individuals around the world.

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General Assembly to FCC: Please Preserve Net Neutrality

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Today, General Assembly submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opposing discrimination and paid prioritization by Internet service providers. I am deeply concerned by the FCC’s proposed rules, and the repercussions they would have on our students and businesses like ours.

Under the FCC’s proposal, Internet service providers would be regulated by the FCC in the same way telephone companies are regulated. In practice, this means that Internet service providers could offer “paid prioritization” to customers with deep pockets. Pay more, and your content is delivered faster. Unfortunately, this type of discriminatory pricing would prevent many new entrepreneurial endeavors from ever getting off the ground. Without resources to pay Internet service providers for preferential treatment, many entrepreneurs won’t be able to compete.

When my co-founders and I started General Assembly in 2011, we quickly found ourselves competing with a host of online and offline incumbents, many with ample funds and an incentive to keep companies like General Assembly out of education. Had the FCC’s rules been in place at our founding, it would have been much more difficult for Brad, Matt, Adam and me to found and grow General Assembly. It’s hard enough to start a business and find resources for the important things – in our case building new and better courses for our students and supporting our graduates – without diverting funds to Internet service providers to enjoy service on par with well-funded competitors.

Moreover, many of our students are entrepreneurs and many more find employment at new entrepreneurial ventures after graduating from our courses. By privileging large and entrenched incumbents, this rule would have potentially disastrous effects on our students, discouraging entrepreneurial activity and limiting the creation of jobs in entrepreneurial ventures. I’m upset by the prospect of a rule that would make it much harder for our students to pursue the work they love, be it their own entrepreneurial venture, a job at a startup or anything else that requires an even playing field on the Internet.

The Internet has always been a place of openness and equality, a place where a blog can speak as loudly as an established news source, where one person with one idea can change the world. Discriminatory pricing practices threaten our students, our business and businesses like ours, the general public, and the economic well-being of our country. As co-founder and CEO of General Assembly, I urge the FCC not to play policy roulette with the lifeblood of entrepreneurship in this country.

– Jake Schwartz
July 1, 2014