It's the Mission, not the Money

Jason L Perry

When our team first decided to launch our school in Tampa Bay it was absolutely paramount, to me at least, that we operate it as a not-for-profit.

The reason for this was due to the fact that I believe that there is an inherent conflict of interests between the school and the student when for-profit education is offered as opposed to not-for-profit. The school collects revenue whether or not the student actually learns anything; let alone is able to graduate with employable skills. As an advocate for education, I understand that though this may not necessarily lead to any direct ethical dilemma, it is something that every school needs to be accountable for. In this sense, for-profit schools have a problem of trust whereas public and non-profit schools have problem of scale.

Currently, Suncoast Developers Guild is exploring a tuition model that will flip this basic fact on its head. Our ultimate goal, is to put Junior programmers to work in Tampa Bay and if we can't they shouldn't be on the hook for five-figures of debt they can't pay back.

In the developer community, there is often a distinct impression that code “bootcamps” are predatory actors that take advantage of eager-to-learn students and pump out graduates who couldn't code their way out of a paper bag. I won't pretend that schools like that don't exist. Changing that perception will take a great deal of effort, however I think the transparency of our business model and the open source nature of our curriculum go a long way towards furthering that goal.

Also, computer programming is very specialized work and at times it can be hard for seasoned engineers to grok how it is possible someone can learn to do what they do in a just few a months. I think, this is a matter of perspective. We aren't training people to develop novel algorithms or solve academic computer science problems. We are teaching them the practical skills they need build websites and contribute to teams solving business problems. Our track record with alumni proves that our graduates are valuable assets to our hiring partners as junior developers.

Succeeding at operating an immersive code school is tough work and sustaining a business model would be especially challenging if we had stakeholders looking for returns on their investment. At Suncoast Developers Guild, we never want to be in a situation where the interests of our students can be bought and sold.

The most important piece to our schools success, will be how we align with employers and the community. I think our team has already proven that what we do is working in Tampa Bay. As we continue to grow those roots, I am proud to say, the Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild is a code school that serves people instead of profits.