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No one’s born knowing how to code. But for some reason, learning to code has been dependent on a certain amount of economic power: access to computers and books about coding, reliable Internet access, help from mentors — the kinds of things we take for granted.

Code-hosting platform GitHub wants to level the economic divide and is hosting an “OctoGala” to benefit Year Up, an organization that teaches underprivileged young people how to code.

“We have employees who have been coding since they learned to type, and we have others who are only now beginning their programming educations,” said GitHub community team leader Kami Richey in an e-mail exchange with VentureBeat.

“Some of us have formal, academic training in computer science, and some of us are self-taught. Part of the beauty of an institution like Year Up is that it allows smart, talented people to self-select into a rigorous program that pairs them with likeminded mentors — self-motivation is a crucial component of a GitHubber’s workflow, regardless of when he or she began coding.”

Access to tech opportunities has the power to change lives. Take Jay Hammonds, a Year Up graduate whose parents abandoned him and whose best hope for the future was a job at Safeway. As part of completing the Year Up program, he got an internship at Facebook and was quickly offered a job there.

Watch his tear-jerking graduation speech. Get the Kleenex.


“The average student who comes to us with annual earnings of less than $8,000 can earn an hourly wage of $19.89 after completing the program,” said Year Up’s Molly Sims, EdD, senior director of development.

“Some of our graduates earn as much as $38 per hour, or nearly $80,000 per year. Such a substantial salary is a tremendous start to a young adult’s career and represents a solid foundation on which to build a better future.”

The impact Year Up graduates can have on their communities is huge. They have transitioned from foster homes to apartments of their own; they financially support their family members.

To get in on the OctoGala hotness (and Year Up support), get your reasonably affordable tickets now. The event takes place in San Francisco this Thursday evening.

If you can’t make it in person, consider making a donation to Year Up on your own.


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