SAN FRANCISCO — Holberton School, the two-year school for full-stack software engineers, announced that GRAMMY award-winning artist NE-YO has joined a prestigious group of investors and mentors already affiliated with the school. In addition to investing in Holberton’s $2.3 million round of funding, NE-YO has joined the school’s Board of Trustees to take an active role in attracting underrepresented groups to software engineering.
“I believe that a major key to success in life is the presence of opportunity. Tech is an ever-growing, evolving industry, and I want to assist in opening doors for people across the country,” said NE-YO. “Holberton School is in a unique position to train people of all backgrounds to lead in the digital age. I couldn’t be more excited about Holberton’s mission and model.”
The school offers an alternative to college, online courses and coding bootcamps for training world-class full-stack software engineers in only two years, leveraging a proven system long-used in Europe. Holberton’s first class of students, due to graduate early 2018, have already been hired or completed internships at top-tier Silicon Valley employers such as Apple, Dropbox, NASA, LinkedIn and Docker.
“When I first met NE-YO, we talked at length about the lack of diversity in tech generally and Silicon Valley specifically. I shared my excitement about Holberton School’s disruptive approach, as well as its early success in developing one of the most welcoming, varied and balanced peer groups in Silicon Valley. He was instantly intrigued and wanted to get involved,” said Anjula Acharia, partner at Trinity Ventures. “Moving forward, NE-YO can help push the boundaries even further. He can use his voice as a platform to reach demographics that haven’t traditionally been represented or included in the tech industry.”
Holberton already boasts a remarkably diverse student body. Its automated admission process was designed to reduce human bias, resulting in one of the most diverse learning institutions in the tech industry. Even as women (40 percent) and people of color (53 percent) comprise its student population, Holberton is committed to taking the next step, assisted by NE-YO, to further increase the representation of underrepresented groups — particularly blacks and Hispanics.
The school’s curriculum is based on the progressive education concept, a methodology that combines project-based and peer learning where students help each other to learn and reach goals. At Holberton, there are no lectures and no formal teachers. Students acquire practical skills and an understanding of theory through hands-on learning and development of actual systems and applications. This practical, hands-on knowledge guarantees that students possess the skills necessary for the technology industry’s most demanding jobs. Students are also closely advised by mentors from Silicon Valley’s leading tech companies.
“When we started Holberton (which is named after a giant in tech, Betty Holberton) just over a year ago, we wanted to give everyone who had an interest in software engineering the skills to effectively fulfill the demand for highly-skilled tech talent,” said Julien Barbier, co-founder and CEO of Holberton and former head of Growth & Community at Docker. “Now, as we are on track to enroll more than 100 students this year, we want to offer this opportunity to even more people. As our first class prepares to graduate and move on to successful jobs at high-profile companies, with NE-YO’s commitment to our diversity initiatives, we will be able to further expand the program’s reach to people who may never have thought about high tech as a career.”
The school charges no upfront tuition. Instead, graduates are asked to contribute a percentage of their salaries to the school for the first three years of their post-Holberton employment, giving back to the next generation of software engineers. Since students pay nothing to the school if they’re not hired, their success is the school’s success.