LaunchCode Celebrates Year One

By November 12, 2014


Most one-year-olds still have trouble walking. But LaunchCode – the non-profit organization established by Square founder Jim McKelvey that provides computer programming instruction, apprenticeships and job placement for anyone looking for economic opportunity and upward mobility through technology – is a different animal altogether.


Attendees listening to Jim McKelvey

Lashana Lewis

LaunchCode grad (and successfully placed in a job) Lashana Lewis

In an event in St. Louis, McKelvey, co-founder Brendan Lind, Launchcode staff and about 300 alumni, supporters, and friends celebrated one year of the organization’s success that saw 115 new jobs in computer programming in metro-St. Louis at an average starting salary of $50,000. LaunchCode also announced that more than 500 people used its mentorship and education programs for career advancement in their first year, and they are opening their first satellite office in Miami.

With eyes set on expansion throughout the U.S., LaunchCode also announced it is moving its headquarters to CIC-St. Louis on the Cortex Innovation Campus in St. Louis, along with Cortex President Dennis Lower and CIC founding partner Dougan Sherwood.

“We’re thrilled to have a new home in the center of so much innovation here in St. Louis,” McKelvey said. “LaunchCode works to solve two issues – helping the many Americans continue to face unemployment and developing and sourcing U.S.-based technology talent. We’re doing that with great success and our new headquarters in CIC-St. Louis at Cortex will only give us a stronger base moving forward. ”

Christopher Bartz

LaunchCode grad (and successfully placed in a job) Christopher Bartz

Thus far, 82 percent of LaunchCoders began their careers without a computer science degree and 90 percent had no previous professional programming experience whatsoever, yet 90 percent of year-one participants were offered full-time technology-based positions at companies. LaunchCode also announced it will expand its offering into areas other than computer programming including Business Intelligence, Quality Assurance, Help Desk, Hardware Engineers, Systems Engineers, Project Managers and more.

“Cortex and CIC is honored to have such a noble and innovative program join our community,” said Dennis Lower, president of the Cortex Innovation Community. “We are all about providing the setting for innovation organizations can grow and succeed and LaunchCode does this not only for organizations needing top tech talent, but for young people looking for a new direction.”

LaunchCode’s new headquarters will be inside of CIC-St. Louis in the @4240 on the Cortex Innovation Campus. Founded in Cambridge, Mass., in 1999 supporting innovative startups and enabling them to grow and flourish, CIC – which opened its second location in St. Louis earlier this year – has been home to more than 1400 companies. More than $1.8B of venture capital has been invested in companies headquartered at CIC and between St. Louis and Cambridge is home to more than 600 companies, most of them startups.

“Launchcode is making real change for people, communities, and organizations, and CIC is a great home for that vision,” said Lind. “We’re taking people young and old, ranging in ages from 16 to 58, and doubling their salaries, putting $20 million back into St. Louis in one year, and changing the educational, economic and social fabric of those we touch.”