General Assembly Honored at MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition

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General Assembly at MIT's innovation conference

Tom Ogletree, Director of Social Impact at General Assembly, presents our Opportunity Fund program at MIT’s Inclusive Innovation Conference. Photo: Dominick Reuter

General Assembly has an ambitious vision for the future. We’re working toward a world in which we can close the global skills gap, ensuring that everyone — regardless of social or economic barriers — has access to the training they need to pursue a career they love. To achieve this goal, we work closely with employers to understand the workforce they need, and then empower students and employees with these skills.

Our commitment is getting noticed.

In September, MIT honored General Assembly as a finalist in its Inclusive Innovation Competition. The contest identifies and celebrates organizations that are inventing a more inclusive, productive, and sustainable future for all. Like us, they see the importance of a network of organizations learning from one another and working together to solve important social challenges. As part of the competition, we presented one of our models for creating a more inclusive workforce: the General Assembly Opportunity Fund.

Opportunity Fund provides fully funded scholarships to our Immersive courses in full-stack web development, user experience design, and Android development for low-income individuals. We focus on underrepresented communities facing barriers to tech carries, including women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and veterans.

“The goal of our Opportunity Fund is to promote systemic change to how people access education,” says Jake Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of General Assembly. “We have created hundreds of fellows around the United States and around the world, of whom 60 percent are women, 80 percent people of color, and 10 percent veterans. From our perspective, we’re just getting started.”

Sarah Aoun, a Web Development Immersive graduate and Opportunity Fund fellow, says her identity is helping her understand how tech can be more inclusive of people from nontraditional backgrounds. “I see code as an art form,” says Aoun, an immigrant from Beirut. “General Assembly is giving me the tools that I need to develop this art, and connect all of my career goals in human rights, politics, and technology.”

Our Opportunity Fund has empowered an exceptional and diverse class of more than 200 students to pursue new careers in tech. These students have included Kazumi (a first-generation immigrant and mom of a special-needs child), Ruth (a Latina and LGBTQ individual who lost her job due to outsourcing), and Joey (a native New Yorker who had trouble finding a full-time, permanent job). We’ve seen how this program has helped provide financial stability and transform careers.

The program and its fellows.

To close the global skills gap, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. General Assembly is dedicated to developing additional measures like scholarships, bridge programs, and apprenticeships that can help ensure our premiere education is accessible to everyone — whether you’re a parent returning to work, a first-generation immigrant, or part of an underrepresented community in tech.

We’re grateful that Opportunity Fund and other partners’ programs can work closely together to identify and create new education and training models that promote more socioeconomic mobility, diversity, and access for more people. We’re honored to have this recognition from MIT and look forward to the exciting road ahead of us as we continue empowering students to pursue work they love.

Learn more about GA’s Opportunity Fund

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About Maxwell Zorick

Maxwell Zorick is the Social Impact Manager at General Assembly, a global educational company on a mission to empower a global community to pursue work they love. At General Assembly, Maxwell focuses on social impact programs that enable affordable and accessible education, contribute to a diverse tech talent pipeline, and promote social mobility through careers in tech. Previously, he was the Partnerships Manager at Purpose, a strategy consultancy and creative agency that works with companies, nonprofits and philanthropies to create integrated campaigns on progressive social issues. Maxwell has also worked as Senior Aide & Project Manager in the Office of Sean Eldridge and Chris Hughes, where he coordinated their political and nonprofit giving, as well as spent time working in the Office of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the Center for American Progress.

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