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Holberton School is pioneering the democratization of debt-free education

Yannis Peyret, CFO Holberton School

Holberton School is a software engineering school started in San Francisco that adopts a project-based education model focusing on peer learning. With a physical campus, but no teachers, students follow a rigorously structured program for two years. The program trains them to adapt to new technologies by “learning how to learn” and prepares them for the workforce by focusing on collaboration and teamwork. Holberton’s mission is not only to train the best software engineers of their generation, but also to make its program widely accessible.

As CFO, Holberton’s concept of “no upfront tuition” is particularly important to me. In lieu of paying tuition, graduates of Holberton are only required to make payments if, and when, they obtain a high-paying job. Then, and only then, do they contribute a percentage of their salaries back to the school for a fixed term of 42 months. This kind of agreement—called an Income Share Agreement, or “ISA” for short—is growing in popularity within the education space. Holberton didn’t invent the ISA, but it is one of the pioneers in democratizing this kind of education payment plan. What is most exciting about ISAs is that they align the school’s success with its students: if our students don’t get anything from the education we provide, then neither do we. To be clear, the Holberton ISA is not debt, has no principal balance and no interest. Students only make payments if their annual salary is at least $40,000, and they do not accrue interest nor have any obligation of payment if they’re unemployed or earning less than the threshold. To date, recent graduates of Holberton have received software engineer internships and full time jobs with starting salaries averaging $92,000 per year, with full-time employees earning on average $105,000 per year.

Today, we break another barrier.

Edly, an online marketplace connecting income share agreement investors with top schools, is announcing today that Holberton will be the first to list and trade on its exchange. With a first inaugural trade of $2 million, this new marketplace will open doors to prospective investors that want to do good while doing well. Until now, we have been tied to our venture capital fundraising efforts to fully underwrite the tuition costs, limiting how fast we can expand and how many students we can welcome through our doors. With the new platform, we can make use of this new asset class and leverage it to receive an advance on student contributions. This funding will help us cover our costs, grow our campus, and expand our impact while keeping our mission front and center. Holberton’s success will continue to be tied to its students’. With Edly’s marketplace, ISAs are becoming a more sustainable and viable tool ready for mass adoption.

We are now accepting applications for the cohorts beginning June 10, 2019. Students and parents who want to learn more about the program are encouraged to visit http://www.holbertonschool.com/education for additional information, eligibility requirements and a tool comparing deferred tuition agreements with other financial aid options that may be available to students.

Women in Tech – Simone Giertz

To inspire millions, it takes a rare combination of ability, timing, and vision. This, the human endeavor, has led to putting a human on the moon. Exploring the very limits of our universe. And, to make this:

As part of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate both the historical innovators who made modern technology possible (We’re looking at you, Betty Holberton), and the women of today who are making a bit of modern history themselves. This week, we’re celebrating the work of none other than the Internet’s very own “Queen of Shitty Robots”, Simone Giertz.

Simone’s path to her being an international technological inspiration may not have followed the most traditional path: As a college dropout, she discovered her love of madcap engineering while interacting with local open-source hardware enthusiasts during her time at Hyper Island. Immersing herself with other creators, she embraced the “Learning by doing” mentality by jumping straight in with almost no prior robotics knowledge. Using her enthusiasm with a liberal amount of Googling, she taught herself from the ground-up how to build and program her first robots. In fact, while attempting to launch a children’s TV show in Sweden, she developed her Toothbrush Machine: a helmet that, at best, assaulted one’s face with a plastic toothbrush. While unfortunately the show was never picked up, her career as an innovator in horrible machines took off after she uploaded her creation to YouTube for all to see:

Simone combines a natural inquisitiveness, deadpan delivery, and desire to embrace the ridiculous was just what the internet needed. Rapidly what started off as her sharing the results of her tinkering with technology ended up with her headlining Reddit’s /r/all (often from posts in the aptly-named shittyrobots subreddit), being featured on shows like The Ellen Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and even one of the most enjoyable TED Talks in years.

Seriously, take a 12 minute pause break and watch her TED talk “Why You Should Make Useless Things” right now:

Not content to just make videos about machines that possibly only make your morning worse, she also documents her process for all of us to learn from, which are equal parts inspiring and amusing. This unique approach to curiosity and building whatever comes from it has led to joy, awkward laughter, and a newfound appreciation of tech among millions of fans across the internet.

Of course, beyond machines that assault with soup, she’s also launched a successfully backed Kickstarter to build The Everyday Calendar: A handsome device that helps everyone build good habits and get the grown up version of the Gold Star every day they achieve their personal, reasonable goal.

Simone’s path followed what we believe in most: The best way to develop new life skills is to jump in, learn with your peers, and to practically apply your learning throughout your self-driven education. And, most important of all, to never stop creating.

Recently, Simone announced that Brian, her brain tumor which she had previously sent on a vacation to Antarctica, has started to grow again. To this, we here at Holberton would like to say we’re rooting for you to successfully evict Brian for good, and that your videos, your enthusiasm for tech, and the very not-OSHA compliant robots that you bring into this world delight everyone here; student and staff alike.

Let’s celebrate Women in Technology

For Women’s History Month, we’d like to start with a huge Happy Birthday to the one and only Frances Elizabeth “Betty” Holberton, our namesake here at Holberton School and one of the first innovators in computer programming. As one of the six programmers who worked on ENIAC, the one of the first programmable, general purpose computers, she was literally at the forefront of computer programming, and continued to innovate throughout her entire professional career.

And being among the first, there were no teachers and she didn’t learn her trade by sitting in a classroom listening to lectures, but by diving in. She learning by observing and directly working with these early computer computational machines, and her innovations built the very framework of modern computing. This hands-on approach to learning by doing is what we try to embody today as we help train the next generation of tech leaders and innovators.

Betty Holberton entered software programming at the very beginning, and her inspiration as a tech pioneer continues today. In celebration of Women’s History Month and Betty Holberton’s birthday, we wanted to highlight why including more women in technology is a great thing for both the industry and society as a whole. So, we reached out to thought leaders, industry mentors, and the very people who have invested in Holberton School to ask them why they think including more women in tech is an important goal for us, and the broader tech industry as a whole, to pursue. And so without further ado, let’s celebrate Women in Tech and Women’s History Month with all of the people who believe in our vision of inclusion and diversity:


Neha Jain, Software Engineering Manager and winner of Top 10 Women in Cloud 2017


Kelvin Beachum, Professional player for the New York Jets and philanthropist

Shauntel Garvey, General Partner at Reach Capital:

Thank you Betty Holberton for the innovations your brought to tech, thank you to all the women leaders of today for their hard work and innovation, and good luck to the female innovators of tomorrow: We’re rooting for you and we know you’ll achieve greatness.

Celebrating Black History Month

We joined the rest of the country proudly celebrating Black History Month. At Holberton we are committed to bringing diversity to software engineering and having our students follow in footsteps of giants like Roy L. Clay, Sr., Mark E. Dean; Kelsey Hightower and our very own Max Johnson – so many more.

It’s no secret that Black/African Americans are underrepresented in the software engineer population, most sources peg the number below 2%.

At Holberton, 13% of our students are people of color due in large part an application process that removes bias, bias not just for gender or color, but learning style, previous grades, and even zip code. And once accepted, students are part of collaborative learning, making them instantly part of the community. Holberton mentors too work with the students, offering guidance and role models. And don’t forget the tireless work of Holberton Trustee NE-YO.

As part of Black History Month last day, Holberton hosted Senior Software Engineer at Niantic Daphne Larose, for a fireside chat. Daphne works on Pokemon Go and was named one of the Top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes. She shared with us how she navigated her career and be the inspiration she would like to see in our world. For sure, Black History Month will have plenty of more successful leaders to celebrate!


Welcoming Holberton first international cohort

group pictures of cohort 8 students in our 3 campuses

This January, on our the third anniversary of the school, we are very proud and excited to welcome cohort 8, our first international cohort, spread across three locations: in San Francisco, New Haven, and Bogotá!

Holberton pioneered a project and peer-learning based approach to train Software Engineers in the US, leading graduated to work at companies around the world, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla and more. Our tuition model, based on ISAs, where students pay nothing until they find a job, is tearing down the financial barrier to a high-quality education and attracting a student body that is shattering the software industry’s lack of diversity. As the model succeeded in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are thrilled to bring it to the state of Connecticut and to open our first international campus in country of Colombia.

Did you know software developer tops the list of the new US News report on 2019’s best jobs? So why not see what all the fuss is about? You have three locations to choose from and more to come!

Join me in welcoming the new students to the Holberton family!


Let 2019 Be the Year Your Career Takes Flight

Year-end and year beginning, is a great time to take stock and think about your profesionnal life. As we move into 2019, think: are you happy with your career?

If you dislike your job, you’re not alone. 70% of 17,000 US employees surveyed said that they were thinking about or actively looking for a new job. According to Glassdoor, 13 of the top 25 best-paying jobs in America are in the tech industry; and by the way, tech is not only hiring like crazy and paying well, but they also offer incredible benefits, perks, and work cultures. Tech is the future and by being part of it, you can help chart the future rather than having it charted for you.

Have you ever thought about becoming a Software Engineer? Not sure you have what it takes to become one?

Holberton students, now working as Software Engineers, show that pretty much anyone with enough grit can make it. They come from diverse educational, income and geographical backgrounds. Ages range from 18 to 58, more than half of the students are people of color, and 35 percent are women. They used to be Delivery Driver, Sociology student, Artist, Sport Coach, and Fruit Picker and now make an average of $105,000 for their first full-time job. With a variety of employers including LinkedIn, Apple, Facebook, and Tesla but also smaller businesses like Scality, Taos and Change.org.

Still not sure? Our free application process is part of the student experience at Holberton. Going through it will give insight into what you would be doing as a student. You will build your first website, no prior coding experience is required!

As Holberton Trustee NE-YO saidTechnical education is the ticket to inclusion in our technology-driven economy”. Becoming an engineer is within your reach – and it can be done without taking out a loan. Holberton is no-upfront tuition school. We invest in your education, and you contribute back financially only when you get a job!

We, at the Holberton School, can train you in two years or less. The application deadline is January 13th, for schools in San Francisco, New Haven, and Bogotá. 2019 be the start of your new career – and your life – to take flight. #NewYearNewYou!

Holberton Is Now An International Phenomenon

Holberton School is going international! As TechCrunch reported – we are thrilled to announce that our first campus outside of the US will open on January 28th in Bogotá, Colombia!

We welcomed our first Holberton School cohort in January 2016. Our mission: to offer affordable, high-quality technical education for the countless talented individuals who would never have access to it otherwise. Since the beginning, Julien and I have aspired to positively impact our society at scale. It was always our hope that Holberton would not be bound only to Silicon Valley, but instead would grow nationally (and it has: to New Haven) to internationally. We are incredibly excited to begin our international expansion in Colombia.

Why Colombia? The country has been experiencing strong economic growth for the past few decades and is determined to be a leader in the digital era. The country is already known to be among the fastest growing sources for IT and digital services. And as large companies experience digital transformations and as founders create vibrant new startups, the need for software engineers is absolutely exploding.

Rappi, Colombia’s first “unicorn” startup valued at over $1 billion, is joining us on this quest. The YCombinator alumni recently raised $200 million, with participation from storied venture firms Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz. Rappi is partnering with Holberton and will contribute to the Bogotá school opening costs, provide mentors and hire Holberton graduates.

The initiative is led by Coderise, an organization that empowers underprivileged youth in Latin America through software programming education as a means to provide skills and access to opportunity for upward social mobility.

Sounds amazing, right? We think so too! That is why we will open a second school in Colombia in June 2019 in the city of Medellín! All of this is only possible thanks to the hard work of Coderise’s Andres Barreto and Hernando Barreto, as well as the amazing Holberton School team. To you all we say THANK YOU!

As NE-YO said, “Let’s make Holberton one of the biggest schools on the face of the planet.”

NFL Player Kelvin Beachum Helping to Offset Living Expenses for Holberton Students

Aligning with our mission to provide high-quality education for the many, we are proud to announce that New York Jets’ Kelvin Beachum has joined our cause. Kelvin, who was recently recognized NFLPA Community MVP for his philanthropic efforts, donated a $10,000 grant to help students offset living expenses.

While San Francisco is the hotbed for developing a world-class software engineering career, it is also one of the most expensive places to live in. Beachum, NFL player by profession, fiercely advocates to increase STEM education for young people, particularly in underrepresented, underserved communities.

“I’m committed to supporting STEM education, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds or who just need an alternative approach to help them get started,” said Beachum. “Holberton is filling the gap by offering an alternative to college, making cutting-edge software engineering training available to everyone with the desire to succeed. I’m proud to be part of it.”

Holberton School founders and Kelvin Beachum pictured in front of the Holberton logo
(L to R) Holberton School co-founder Sylvain Kalache, Kelvin Beachum, Holberton School co-founder Julien Barbier

This initiative follows our recent announcement for a new Holberton School campus in New Haven, where the cost of living is only a third of the one in Silicon Valley. We are proud to partner with Kelvin who, as ESPN coined it, is a big man with a big heart.

Kelvin’s donation is among a series that has helped so many students achieve their goal. Previous ones include CloudNow, Scality, Google and Accenture.

Candidates can apply to the scholarship once they are admitted at Holberton School, start your application now!

 

Priyanka Chopra Joining Holberton School Board of Trustees

In case you haven’t already seen, check out the NY Times! Actor, producer and social activist, Priyanka Chopra, has joined our Board of Trustees and invested in the school – to take an active role in attracting women to software engineering.

“No path to success is linear, but it’s staggering that women make up half the workforce and have held fewer than 25 percent of jobs in tech for the past two decades,” says Chopra. “At the Holberton School inclusion and diversity are more than just buzzwords, it is prioritized and infused in their DNA, and I’m looking forward to joining the Board of Trustees to help further their mission and close the gap.”

Priyanka joins our amazing collective of Trustees which includes Grammy winner, NE-YO, Jocelyn DeGance Graham, CEO at CloudNOW, Stephane Kasriel, CEO at Upwork, and Solomon Hykes, co-founder at Docker.

Priyanka will work with us on making sure that our mission of providing high-quality education for the many is fulfilled. She will focus on accessibility, and more specifically inspiring more women into a tech career. In the US, only 20% of software engineering positions are filled by women.

As software and artificial intelligence are becoming, by the second, a bigger part of how our world works, it is essential to have gender parity in the teams that are building the product and systems that are impacting our society and life at large.

We at Holberton have been training the next generation of software engineers, and many are women already working in the field: from hunting asteroids at NASA, contributing to the future of self-driving cars at Tesla and building technology that will power artificial intelligence at Nvidia.

Priyanka has been an outspoken advocate, and role model, for women for many years and we are thrilled to align our values and actions to solve the diversity gap in the Tech industry.

Welcome Priyanka!

Welcoming Nadine Krause as Holberton School New Haven Director

As many of you know, at the beginning of this month we announced our new campus in New Haven, Connecticut. But what you didn’t know is that we have hired our campus Director, Nadine Krause.

Nadine held human resources roles gaining extensive experience in talent and leadership development, team and diversity and inclusion. She embraces the mission of Holberton School, providing high-quality education for the many, where the often-times forgotten soft-skills, are in the center of our education.

Nadine will assume responsibility for all of the operations and the success of the New Haven campus. She will also focus on building a strong community and corporate partnerships to ensure that our students have access to meaningful internship opportunities, mentors and industry experts. In return, the local employers will have access to the diverse, motivated and well-rounded skill-set of our graduates.

So, join me in welcoming Nadine to the Holberton family!