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Give Back This Season by Supporting Opportunity Fund Fellows

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Since it’s inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown to encompass over 30,000 organizations around the globe that participate in a movement centered around generosity and gratitude.

This #GivingTuesday, we’re highlighting our mission to empower a global community to pursue work they love by opening up our Opportunity Fund to donors of all sizes. Opportunity Fund is General Assembly’s philanthropic fellowship program which allows individuals from underrepresented communities—with a special focus on women, people of color, opportunity youth, and veterans—to access our immersive courses, at no cost, and help prepare for jobs as junior-level web developers and UX designers.

Our Opportunity Fund fellows have transformative experiences and we’ve partnered with NationSwell to share one of those stories. This documentary follows Lyn, an early Opportunity Fund recipient who took full advantage of the scholarship to change her family’s life and give back to her community.

We’re incredibly grateful that we’ve been able to award more than 100 fellowships through our Opportunity Fund, thanks to the generous support of benefactors like AT&T, Capital One, and McDonald’s. That’s 100 individuals, who like Lyn, might not have otherwise pursued skills in technology. Lyn’s experience is only one of many amazing stories of transformation and we’re excited to continue to increase access to education opportunities and support a diverse talent pipeline.

Donate here to make a tax-deductible contribution to help the next generation of Opportunity Fund fellows. We’ll will match every dollar donated to underwrite the cost of more fellowships for the future leaders in technology and design.

Thank you for your support!

-Brimer

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Bridging the Gap: Can Student Aid Help More Learners Acquire Skills for the New Economy?

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When our co-founders launched General Assembly in 2011, they didn’t set out to start an education company – let alone, an entirely new category of education. To put things in perspective, at the end of 2013, GA had served just over 5,000 students. By the end of this year, over 20,000 students will have completed our programs in technology, business, data, and design.

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SOLA/HACK! A Design Hackathon for Change in South LA

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“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” -Alice Walker

SOLA/HACK was a design hackathon I organized, hosted by General Assembly’s downtown L.A. campus. Participants included current students and alumni from General Assembly and USC. The objective of the hackathon was to apply design thinking and UX design principles to issues specific to the South L.A. community, with an eye toward how appropriate uses of technology could be used to help address social, economic, and environmental problems. While technology can be a powerful tool for change (think of the crucial role of cell phones during the Arab Spring uprising), it was stressed that there is not an easy techno-fix to every social problem. So participants were encouraged to look beyond just apps or websites and employ systems-based thinking on their solutions.

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GA alum Advocates Importance of UX Design in Cambodia

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Since graduating from GA DC’s first UXDI course last year summer, Nina has honed her skills with freelance gigs, one of them at a big political consulting firm. When Nina wasn’t freelancing or leading a Code for America chapter, she made time for Visual Design this spring. Since her second GA graduation, she’s been exploring the nonprofit space by working with the Asia Foundation. After her work in Cambodia, Nina is considering other ways she can share the value of good UX in DC and beyond.

Keep up with Nina on Twitter @nbaliga1.

What were you doing before you came to GA?

I was a freelance UX designer and digital strategist. Prior to doing freelance UX, I was working at several digital marketing agencies as a project manager/account manager/digital strategist.

What did you choose to take a course with us?

I wanted to develop my portfolio to make myself more marketable. I also wanted to leverage the GA network to make more contacts to increase my number of freelance gigs.

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NYC Becomes a More Talented Tech Hub Thanks to New CTO, Minerva Tantoco

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It was a Tuesday morning deep in Lower Manhattan, steps away from the World Trade Center and City Hall. While suits swarmed the sidewalks on their way to offices in the sky, we made our way to LMHQ, which hosts events and allows space for coworking.

Fellow startup folks filled the main room, chatting, exchanging cards, drinking coffee, and taking pictures of the whiteboard art. It seemed exactly like the kind of place where Techweek New York would kick off, with none-other than a CTO as the featured speaker. But this wasn’t the kind of CTO the startup crowd is used to hearing — it was Minerva Tantoco, the very first CTO for the government of the City of New York.

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“Let Dreams Evolve,” A Conversation with Kristian Nairn of Game of Thrones

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Fans of Kristian Nairn, known for playing the well-loved character of Hodor on the TV phenomenon, Game of Thrones, may be surprised to know that he’s enjoyed a thriving DJ career for the past two decades. His latest, and perhaps most notable, set being Rave of Thrones—an epic dance party that brings together die-hard Game of Thrones fans and music lovers from around the world.

We caught up with Nairn backstage at the Hard Rock cafe, right before he played a rowdy crowd of ravers and cosplay enthusiasts at this year’s Comic Con in New York City.

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Bridging the Diversity Gap in Tech, One Student at a Time

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Toptal developers are providing mentorship to Opporunity Fund fellows from around the world.

The White House estimates that there are half a million tech jobs available in the U.S. alone, meanwhile more than 5% of the U.S. population remains unemployed. There aren’t enough skilled professionals to assume these roles, and despite thousands of people learning to code, the tech workforce continues to be fairly homogenous.

Our society can only benefit from having a variety of people pursue work in tech. A more diverse workforce means more innovative ideas and stronger solutions. That’s why fellowships like General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund are working to make tech education more accessible to underrepresented groups like women, people of color, veterans, and individuals from low-income backgrounds. Students can apply for scholarships and support for our full-time, career-changing programs in either web development or user experience design.

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5 Companies Using Data for Social Impact

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Can data improve the future of our humanity? You better believe it. “Big data” is more than just big businesses. Every day, social impact groups are finding new and creative ways to act upon the information that they’re generating. They’re using data to surface new information, uncover underserved communities, and track performance over time. Here are 5 very different organizations that are using data, in new and creative ways, to improve the lives of people around them:

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NYC Pledges to Provide Computer Science Education to All Public School Students

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General Assembly is thrilled to celebrate a historic initiative in computer science education. On Wednesday, September 16th, New York City Mayor de Blasio announced Computer Science for All: Fundamentals for Our Future, which pledges computer science education for every NYC student within 10 years. In a partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation, the AOL Charitable Foundation, and the Solomon Wilson Family Foundation, the move sets aside $81 million to make this program possible.

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What Does an Engineer Look Like?

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Credit: Isis Wenger

Credit: Isis Wenger

Isis Wenger wasn’t looking to start a social movement. But when her face appeared on an advertisement for OneLogin, where she works as an engineer, Isis quite literally became the face of gender diversity in the tech industry. And rather than shirk the publicity, Isis embraced her newfound celebrity and launched a social media campaign aimed at highlighting the pervasive inequalities of the industry.

Isis’ specific ad (one of four her company created) immediately generated heated discussion and controversy, which in turn has highlighted the sexism that continues to characterize this industry. Reactions ranged to comments on her appearance to doubts she actually worked at the company. It boils down to one unfortunate point: People have a set idea of what an engineer should look like, and Isis doesn’t fit that mold.

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