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Nonprofit Tech Boot Camp to Offer Coding Courses in Atlanta

The nonprofit Operation Spark has announced plans to expand its software development program to the Atlanta area to prepare students for related careers, following success at teaching coding in Louisiana.

Closeup of a person coding on a laptop.
The nonprofit tech boot camp provider Operation Spark is expanding its software training program to Atlanta to help meet local employers’ demand for career applicants with coding skills, a recent announcement said.

According to a news release, the nonprofit’s training program begins with a free three-week introductory workshop in which students can earn a Level 1 Industry Based Certification (IBC) and begin to decide whether a career in coding is right for them. CEO John Fraboni said students then move into the full training program, which provides them with more in-depth practice exercises to further build their coding skills.

Fraboni said that the training program was first launched in Louisiana, where the nonprofit has found success in preparing students for jobs in need of applicants with coding skills. He said that by the time a student gets into the full program, they’re “99 percent sure” to make it through the program and get a job in the field, and claimed that the program so far has a 100 percent job placement rate after completion.

“It’s really like, ‘Come try your hand at this and decide if you nerd out before making any huge commitments,’” he said. “You will really know if this is for you or not, and we really know if this is for you or not, too.”

Fraboni described the full program as “very rigorous,” involving exercises where students “practice a lot” to build their confidence in coding. He said this training aims to help fill software technology career vacancies throughout the state and in the Atlanta area, where the average salary of a software engineer is $111,432 per year, according to statistics from Glassdoor.

“It just helps people develop this confidence and get some practice to be unafraid of being in a situation like that where they have to figure it out on the fly, and that’s what life as a software engineer is like,” he noted.

The program’s expansion comes amid the growing popularity of vocational training programs and the recent rise of tech boot camps that provide accelerated workforce training for students to gain skills needed for tech-related careers, such as coding and software development skills that are in high demand among employers as workplaces across industries increasingly digitize daily operations. Fraboni said students who complete the program “already have a year’s worth of production experience” by the time they begin applying for jobs in the field.

“When employers come to our grad showcases and see what students have done and what graduates are capable of, they get hired and more importantly, they retain their jobs. When our grads get a job, they keep them,” he said. “I think programs like this are really important, and I wish they were in more fields in different areas.”

According to the announcement, Operation Spark plans to train 60 Atlanta-area youth in the basics of JavaScript, functional programming and web development by the end of 2023. Fraboni said students who continue through Level 3 certification will then enter Operation Spark’s Job Hunt initiative to get into high-wage software careers, adding that the program is being offered online, with plans to adopt a hybrid learning model before returning to the previous in-person training model used before the pandemic.

The announcement added that Operation Spark expects to be full-time in Atlanta by July 2023, and to offer its High School to High Wage program at local public schools while providing professional development for teachers to teach software development classes. Fraboni noted that the nonprofit also connects students with scholarships and living stipends.

“Our goal in expanding is to try to be in a place where there’s people that can really take advantage of this opportunity to very quickly engage with a high-wage workforce,” he said. “So, I think another thing that differentiates us from other boot camps is that we’re hellbent on trying to help people come [up] from low-income situations.”

The announcement said the program’s introductory workshops will begin on Jan. 30 and Feb. 27, adding that candidates must participate in a virtual information session prior to enrollment. Registration information is available on the program’s website.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.