News & Insights

Code the Dream Case Study

Durham, NC
www.codethedream.org

Code the Dream offers free intensive training in software development to people from diverse low-income backgrounds through their free code school, CTD Learns. In their nonprofit development shop, CTD Labs, coders work with experienced mentors to hone their skills by building apps and technology platforms for a range of clients. CTD is a 2020 NC IDEA MINI ECOSYSTEM and 2021 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant Recipient.

Submitted by Daisy Magnus-Aryitey
Published May 2024

Dan Rearick (Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director), Daisy Magnus-Aryitey (Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director), and Ramiro Rodriguez
(Co-Founder, CTO)

I first discovered Code the Dream (CTD) in 2015 as a stay-at-home mom. I aspired to enter the tech industry at the time, but pursuing a traditional Computer Science degree was not feasible for me. That’s when I discovered an early version of CTD’s free program, and decided to give it a shot. Little did I know it would be the stepping stone that led me to land my first full-time developer position at Duke University. Fast forwarding to the present, I returned to the organization and now serve as Co-Executive Director, motivated by the belief that we can support individuals from underserved communities to enter the tech industry.

The tech industry has a significant gap in opportunity and resources for adult learners. Asking adult learners with families and full-time jobs to pursue a Computer Science degree is challenging. Yet, the demand for tech jobs remains high. Our mission is to bridge this gap by providing opportunities for individuals within these communities. CTD Learns offers free 18-week intro and advanced coding classes that deliver up-to-date content to our part-time students.

       CTD staff and Apprentices at a coworking day

However, what truly distinguishes us is our CTD Labs Apprenticeship program. This year-long program leverages the expertise of seasoned senior developers allowing our apprentices to gain invaluable hands-on experience building and maintaining customized web and mobile applications for other nonprofits, institutions, and entrepreneurs. Each apprentice is placed on a small team, providing active participation with leadership opportunities. Our hope is that every apprentice and student becomes a leader in the field.

Like many nonprofits, the hurdle we consistently face is meeting the demand. In every CTD Learns application cycle, we receive far more applications than we can serve. What started as a five-person organization has expanded to include 25 full-time staff members and 45 full-time apprentices. As long as we have the resources, we will continue to build the capacity to support our talented pool of applicants.

At CTD, we are intentional about the communities we serve. 60% of our students are women — compared to about 35% in the Tech industry —, and 60% are people of color. We are committed to ensuring that the next generation of tech workers reflects our diverse communities. Through our classes and apprenticeship programs, we represent approximately 100 countries of origin.

NC IDEA’s support throughout the years has been instrumental to our work. From the beginning of our partnership, we shared a vision and mission alignment. In 2020, CTD was awarded the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant, enabling us to provide early-stage technical expertise to underserved entrepreneurs through CTD Labs, our in-house development shop. One of the founders we supported then was Dr. Anindya Chanda, Founder and CEO of Mycologics. We assisted him with his website and helped grow his web presence. In 2021, Mycologics received the NC IDEA MICRO ($10k) grant. Of course, we were rooting for him, so we were proud when the news came out that he had been awarded the grant.

Working with entrepreneurs has taught me a couple of lessons that I think are worth sharing. First, I learned early on in this line of work that founders get very excited about the idea of building an app. And it is exciting — creating something always is! The idea of something custom-made to fit your specific needs is appealing, especially if you have some novel ideas you’d like to try. But very often, especially if an entrepreneur is still in the early stages, a pre-existing application can be much easier and less expensive, at least at the outset. The key thing to do would be to sit down with potential developers — like CTD Labs — and work out the answers to questions about your needs, your timeline, and your budget.

                                                       Mycologics Site

On a similar note, I’d also advise early-stage entrepreneurs to avoid getting too attached to the specifics of your initial idea. The excitement of moving ahead with a great idea and developing it into something real is intoxicating, but it can come with blinders. Take advice and criticism, let it germinate and grow, and make smart changes where necessary. You don’t want to end up clinging to facets of your idea that don’t work in the end. Think of it as dating your idea before fully committing to it. From my experience, the end result is always better.

Follow CTD: Instagram, FacebookXLinkedIn

Code the Dream offers free intensive training in software development to people from diverse low-income backgrounds through their free code school, CTD Learns. In their nonprofit development shop, CTD Labs, coders work with experienced mentors to hone their skills by building apps and technology platforms for a range of clients. CTD is a 2020 NC IDEA MINI ECOSYSTEM and 2021 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant Recipient.

Submitted by Daisy Magnus-Aryitey
Published May 2024

Dan Rearick (Co-Founder, Co-Executive        Director), Daisy Magnus-Aryitey (Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director), and Ramiro Rodriguez
(Co-Founder, CTO)

I first discovered Code the Dream (CTD) in 2015 as a stay-at-home mom. I aspired to enter the tech industry at the time, but pursuing a traditional Computer Science degree was not feasible for me. That’s when I discovered an early version of CTD’s free program, and decided to give it a shot. Little did I know it would be the stepping stone that led me to land my first full-time developer position at Duke University. Fast forwarding to the present, I returned to the organization and now serve as Co-Executive Director, motivated by the belief that we can support individuals from underserved communities to enter the tech industry.

The tech industry has a significant gap in opportunity and resources for adult learners. Asking adult learners with families and full-time jobs to pursue a Computer Science degree is challenging. Yet, the demand for tech jobs remains high. Our mission is to bridge this gap by providing opportunities for individuals within these communities. CTD Learns offers free 18-week intro and advanced coding classes that deliver up-to-date content to our part-time students.

      CTD staff and Apprentices at a coworking day

However, what truly distinguishes us is our CTD Labs Apprenticeship program. This year-long program leverages the expertise of seasoned senior developers allowing our apprentices to gain invaluable hands-on experience building and maintaining customized web and mobile applications for other nonprofits, institutions, and entrepreneurs. Each apprentice is placed on a small team, providing active participation with leadership opportunities. Our hope is that every apprentice and student becomes a leader in the field.

Like many nonprofits, the hurdle we consistently face is meeting the demand. In every CTD Learns application cycle, we receive far more applications than we can serve. What started as a five-person organization has expanded to include 25 full-time staff members and 45 full-time apprentices. As long as we have the resources, we will continue to build the capacity to support our talented pool of applicants.

At CTD, we are intentional about the communities we serve. 60% of our students are women — compared to about 35% in the Tech industry —, and 60% are people of color. We are committed to ensuring that the next generation of tech workers reflects our diverse communities. Through our classes and apprenticeship programs, we represent approximately 100 countries of origin.

NC IDEA’s support throughout the years has been instrumental to our work. From the beginning of our partnership, we shared a vision and mission alignment. In 2020, CTD was awarded the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant, enabling us to provide early-stage technical expertise to underserved entrepreneurs through CTD Labs, our in-house development shop. One of the founders we supported then was Dr. Anindya Chanda, Founder and CEO of Mycologics. We assisted him with his website and helped grow his web presence. In 2021, Mycologics received the NC IDEA MICRO ($10k) grant. Of course, we were rooting for him, so we were proud when the news came out that he had been awarded the grant.

Working with entrepreneurs has taught me a couple of lessons that I think are worth sharing. First, I learned early on in this line of work that founders get very excited about the idea of building an app. And it is exciting — creating something always is! The idea of something custom-made to fit your specific needs is appealing, especially if you have some novel ideas you’d like to try. But very often, especially if an entrepreneur is still in the early stages, a pre-existing application can be much easier and less expensive, at least at the outset. The key thing to do would be to sit down with potential developers — like CTD Labs — and work out the answers to questions about your needs, your timeline, and your budget.

                                                Mycologics Site

On a similar note, I’d also advise early-stage entrepreneurs to avoid getting too attached to the specifics of your initial idea. The excitement of moving ahead with a great idea and developing it into something real is intoxicating, but it can come with blinders. Take advice and criticism, let it germinate and grow, and make smart changes where necessary. You don’t want to end up clinging to facets of your idea that don’t work in the end. Think of it as dating your idea before fully committing to it. From my experience, the end result is always better.

Follow CTD: Instagram, FacebookXLinkedIn