Startup teaches coding to new communities

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – From creating an online school yearbook in Farmington to a budget analysis for the City of Albuquerque, a special program called “Cultivating Coders” has taken off.

It’s a web development course that’s earning accolades because of the community it serves.

“We really wanted to be more of a social impact program–not a coding boot camp,” President Charles Ashley III said.

While big cities and Silicon Valley have coding boot camps, Ashley saw an opening in under-served areas.

“But what about the areas where everyone we talk about changing and we talk about affecting, the Four Corner areas, the tribal areas, rural?  There’s no camps out there,” he said.

So an idea was born. They just won Best Startup Company of the Year at South by Southwest, and Ashley last month visited the White House.

“You get the foundation of being a coder, a developer,” Ashley said. “I’m hoping that they take this opportunity and continue to build on it.  Some want to be entrepreneurs.  Some want to work for a tech company. Some just want to work for a website and build games. You can continue to build upon it.”

Duane Ulibarri, a graduate, said, “I feel like he’s given me back my life. I’ve been out of work for five years, and this is great.”

From apps to web development, these graduates have new tech skills.

“There’s a lot of communities that don’t have the opportunity for education in this type of field, and it’s a really quickly growing field,” said Kendra Moreno, a graduate.

“Cultivating Coders” also partners with the New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

“Our mission and our vision is to help individuals with disabilities across the state of new Mexico to gain employment,” said Cathryn Murphy, with Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Upon finishing the course, the graduates also get their own computers.

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