Ne-Yo Wants to ‘Diversify the Tech World’, Helps Raise $2.3M for California Coding School

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Ne-Yo will be a judge on NBC’s “World of Dance” this summer. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Singer Ne-Yo wants to do his part to make the tech industry more diverse and he’s doing so by investing in an innovative school aimed at making coding accessible to all.

Ne-Yo, whose real name is Shaffer Smith, was part of a $2.3-million investing round for the Holberton School in February. The San Francisco-based school provides training for talented and motivated individuals who want to become full-stack engineers. Such developers are able to build applications on a variety of platforms.

“Everybody knows that tech and all these things are the wave of the future,” Ne-Yo, who is on the school’s board of trustees told TechCrunch Thursday, April 27. “I just love the fact of what they’re doing with the school — that they’re making it easier for underrepresented people in the world of tech. They’re giving them a platform and access to this knowledge that they probably wouldn’t get otherwise. I think that’s one of the coolest things about this whole situation.”

Holberton School allows students age 18 and older to enroll in a two-year higher-education program. The school charges 17 percent of students’ internship income and, once they find a job, 17 percent of their salary over three years. Students of the program have gone on to work for Google, Facebook and Apple, according to the school’s website.

“They’re eliminating all of these barriers,” Trinity Ventures partner Anjula Acharia told New York Business Journal. “The best schools — Stanford, Berkeley and Harvard — are not very inclusive. Holberton is really disruptive in the way they approach education and bring in a wide group of individuals that otherwise wouldn’t have access to a coding education in any other way.”

Holberton’s present class is 53 percent nonwhite and 40 percent women, and Ne-Yo, who wants the school to become more diverse, told TechCrunch he plans on being as involved as he can outside of his music career and an upcoming stint on the dance competition show, “World of Dance.”

“This is not, ‘Oh, let me attach my name to something.’ This is something that I’m genuinely passionate about . You know, diversifying the tech world,” he said. “Tech is changing the world by the second, so it makes sense to get the people that live in the world to be part of this thing that’s changing it, as opposed to just this one group of people.”

Enrollment for the next round of 25-person classes, held in September 2017, January 2018 and September 2018, is open now.

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