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September 09 2016

‘Tech Opportunity Fund’ Launched to Award $100 Million in Code School and Financial Literacy Diversity Scholarships

· Partnership created by Operation HOPE, The Iron Yard, and Code Fellows

· Over the next five years, The Tech Opportunity Fund aims to award $100 million in full-tuition diversity scholarships to participating code school programs

· Operation HOPE, and other nonprofits and government agencies, will provide financial literacy education and support services to propel students through their transition into tech careers

· Announcement made today in speech by Vice President Joe Biden in St. Louis

ATLANTA – Sept. 9, 2016  Global financial dignity and economic empowerment nonprofit, Operation HOPE, Inc., has partnered with  The Iron Yard, the largest immersive code school in the U.S., and  Seattle-based coding bootcamp Code Fellows to launch the Tech Opportunity Fund. By unifying the efforts of code schools, government, civic organizations and employers, the goal of the Tech Opportunity Fund is to increase diversity in the tech industry by removing financial barriers and increasing access to tech education for all. In addition to technical skills training, the initiative will include core financial literacy education and entrepreneurship training through Operation HOPE programming. The Tech Opportunity Fund was announced this morning in a speech by Vice President Joe Biden in St. Louis.

“Access to opportunity is the hallmark of an inclusive global economy, and access to digital opportunity and jobs in the digital space is the door to the future,” said John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO. “This extraordinary collaborative will help develop life skills in deserving students, many, in underserved communities throughout the nation—creating a generation of tech leaders and job creators to power us forward.”

Over the next five years, The Tech Opportunity Fund aims to award $100 million in diversity scholarships to in-need students from groups that are currently underrepresented in the tech workforce including women and minorities. The Iron Yard has committed $40 million in full-tuition scholarships to the school’s immersive programs over the next five years, Code Fellows has committed $5 million in full-tuition scholarships, and Operation HOPE will serve as the Fund’s financial literacy and entrepreneur training partner. Through additional scholarship funding made possible by commitments from education, civic and employer partners, The Tech Opportunity Fund will reach its goal of $100 million in scholarships.

“To maximize the potential of the tech industry, we must maximize the potential of a diverse tech workforce,” said Peter Barth, CEO of The Iron Yard. “There was a true need in the industry for an organization to unite the many groups that are working to increase access to tech education for underrepresented groups. By coordinating our efforts, we can truly change the industry for the better.”

In addition to providing full-tuition scholarships to code school programs, the Tech Opportunity Fund will work to remove other barriers that can prevent people from pursuing a code school education. Partnerships with city-level government bodies and civic organizations will assist scholarship recipients by addressing needs such as affordable housing, financial literacy, counseling and transportation as needed.

"The creation of the Tech Opportunity Fund is unprecedented,” said Rodney Sampson, a partner of the Tech Opportunity Fund and partner at TechSquare Labs. “By far, it is the largest tangible strategic financial commitment to diversify the technical talent and workforce that will drive our nation toward an inclusive innovation economy for all. I look forward to working with all of the stakeholders to ensure that these scholarships are distributed with integrity and authenticity."

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution that will increase access to tech education and improve diversity in the workforce,” said Barth. “The Tech Opportunity Fund approaches these issues holistically and coordinates local and national resources to provide students with both academic opportunity and the support system they need to be successful.”

Applications for Tech Opportunity Fund scholarships will open by January 2017. To receive a scholarship, applicants will need to first be accepted into a participating code school through that program’s standard admissions process. After their acceptance, students will apply for a Tech Opportunity Fund scholarship through the website, www.techopportunityfund.org. Scholarships will be awarded to qualified students on a first come, first served basis.

“Over the last 12 months, we’ve provided over $600,000 in scholarships, from direct funds and from great partners like Expedia and Zillow. These funds have given over a hundred students the chance to learn relevant, highly desirable skills, and continue on to join great companies in the local tech markets,” said Dave Parker, Code Fellows CEO. “The Tech Opportunity Fund program helps us expand that impact.”

About Operation HOPE

Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to "silver rights" with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved. Through its core programs, the nonprofit has provided financial dignity and economic empowerment to over 2.6 million individuals worldwide, and $2 billion in economic activity for the disenfranchised—turning check cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners and minimum wage workers into living wage consumers.  Project 5117 is HOPE’s multi-year four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality that aims to improve financial literacy, increase business role models and business internships for youth, and stabilize the American dream by boosting credit scores. Operation HOPE recently received its second consecutive 4-star charity rating for fiscal management and commitment to transparency and accountability by the prestigious non-profit evaluator, Charity Navigator—further establishing it as a best-in-class organization. For more information: www.OperationHOPE.org

About The Iron Yard

The Iron Yard is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing code schools. It exists to create real, lasting change for people, companies and communities through technology education. The school offers full-time programs in Back-End Engineering, Front-End Engineering, Mobile Engineering and Design. The Iron Yard operates more than 20 campuses in the U.S. For more information, visit www.theironyard.com

About Code Fellows

Code Fellows is a Seattle-based digital trade school that guarantees high-paying job offers after successful completion of its Development Accelerators. Their staff, students, and alumni are passionate about helping individuals, communities, and organizations thrive by providing world-class technical education, career coaching, and job placement services. To learn more about Code Fellows, visit www.codefellows.org.