LaunchCode | St. Louis Public Radio

LaunchCode

Jim McKelvey is the co-founder of LaunchCode, a St. Louis-based company celebrating its fifth anniversary this October.
LaunchCode

LaunchCode, an organization headquartered in St. Louis, celebrates its five-year anniversary this week. The nonprofit helps people enter the tech field by providing education and job placement services.

“We’ve got over 1,400 careers that we’ve launched so far in the five years that LaunchCode has been [in St. Louis], but that doesn’t count the people who have taken our training and gotten placed elsewhere,” explained entrepreneur and investor Jim McKelvey.

Along with fellow St. Louisan Jack Dorsey, McKelvey is the co-founder of Square and founder of LaunchCode, a company McKelvey started because St. Louis lacked a skilled workforce adept at programming.

File photo I Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

During a statewide tour on Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he wants work with lawmakers to fix two bills during next week’s special session.

Parson vetoed a bill to increase STEM education in high school and another to expand alternative prosecution for drug abusers, known as drug courts. Despite the vetoes, Parson is making it clear he still supports the spirit of the laws and would rather see them reshaped than overridden by lawmakers as currently written.

Jennifer Franklin at a CoderGirl meeting Dec. 2016
Launch Code

Last winter, Kimberly Vaughn and DeAnna Tipton both found themselves needing a career change.

Vaughn, 41, said she was “tattered and worn” of the industry she was in and was struggling as a single mother. Tipton, 25, was simply fed up with her job.

Although neither had a technology background, they both decided to attend the CoderGirl meet-up group at LaunchCode, a nonprofit that offers free training courses in coding at 4811 Delmar Blvd. in the Central West End.

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at LaunchCode alongside Jim McKelvey, founder of Square and co-founder of LaunchCode, on Friday morning.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Joe Biden says he’s well aware that the last eight years haven’t been easy for the nation’s workforce.

In remarks on Friday at a roundtable discussion at LanchCode in St. Louis, Biden says the economic downturn in the late 2000s  “clobbered” the middle class. And that had tangible consequences for struggling cities.

Jim McKelvey, Co-founder, Square
Scott Pham|KBIA

It has been a big year for an emerging technology company with St. Louis roots.

Square went public on the New York Stock Exchange a few weeks ago. It also opened a St. Louis office, which is expected to employ more than 200 in five years.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A non-profit aimed at developing more programmers in St. Louis is launching a new center on the north side.

The LaunchCode Mentor Center will open its doors Thursday evening at 4811 Delmar Boulevard, in a former state unemployment office.

Center director Chris Bay said they hope to engage the surrounding Fountain Park neighborhood with the kickoff event.

"We want people to not just come and celebrate and see a ribbon being cut. We want people to interact," he said.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

International accounting firm KPMG looked at cities all over the United States and landed on St. Louis for its information tech expansion.

The company already has an office in downtown St. Louis with 270 employees. Over the next three years, it plans to add 175 IT positions, the company announced at a press conference today.

Karen Vangyia, the managing partner of the local office, said St. Louis is one of the fastest growing markets for technology jobs. She pointed to computer science programs at several local universities and the availability of professionals.

LaunchCode, community center, tech jobs
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A former state unemployment center on St. Louis’ north side could soon become LaunchCode’s new community center.

The non-profit that focuses on training people in technology and placing them in jobs, made the announcement Friday at the former Nathaniel J. ‘Nat’ Rivers State Office Building at 4811 Delmar Avenue.

"Take a look at this building right now," said LaunchCode co-founder Jim McKevley while pointing to the beige walls, "then come back in a year, and I guarantee it will not look like this."

CoderGirl offers free weekly meetings that are meant to bring women with an interest in computer programming together with female mentors who can guide them.
Courtesy of LaunchCode

President Barack Obama on Monday announced an initiative called TechHire that will train and connect workers to tech jobs.

In unveiling the $100 million program at the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C., the president highlighted LaunchCode, a St. Louis nonprofit started in 2013.

CoderGirl, LaunchCode, computer programming
(courtesy LaunchCode)

You're a woman with no computer coding experience? CoderGirl wants you.

CoderGirl offers free weekly meetings that are meant to bring women with an interest in computer programming together with female mentors who can guide them.

It’s the brainchild of LaunchCode, the non-profit that has been working to fill the tech-talent gap in St. Louis.

St. Louis Public Radio's Tim Lloyd reports for Marketplace on LaunchCode, the newest project from Square co-founder and St. Louis native Jim McKelvey.

Courtesy of Launch Code

In the St. Louis region and across the nation, it can be difficult for new programmers to get their foot in the door.  At the same time startups and established companies in the St. Louis region can struggle to find qualified talent.  

Enter Co-founder of  Square and owner of Third Degree Glass Factory Jim McKelvey, whose new project Launch Code pairs beginner programmers with their more established counterparts.

Jim McKelvey, founder of Square
Provided by Mr. McKelvey

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When entrepreneur Jim McKelvey met software developer Chris Oliver a month ago, he was stunned to hear how many of Oliver’s talented friends in the field were out of work.