Creates economic opportunity by adding new talent to tech ecosystems across the nation




LaunchCode creates economic opportunity by adding new talent to tech ecosystems across the nation. While careers in technology have traditionally been reserved for those with a four-year computer science degree, LaunchCode’s programs are free and accessible to motivated individuals who are assessed for passion, drive, and aptitude rather than credentials.




Founded as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2013 by entrepreneur Jim McKelvey, LaunchCode was conceived in response to the tech talent shortage plaguing companies across the nation. Jim experienced the issue firsthand after co-founding payment processing technology, Square, was forced to move from St. Louis to Silicon Valley to tap into the robust pool of tech talent it needed to thrive. The move left Jim—a St. Louis native—grappling with the fact that those high-paying and upwardly-mobile jobs wouldn’t be in his hometown. He knew the region was rich with individuals driven to succeed but without an accessible and affordable pathway to do so. LaunchCode would be that pathway.


Six years later, LaunchCode’s model completely flips two traditional ideas on their heads: it changes the way people are educated and changes the way employers hire. Fundamental to LaunchCode’s method is an innovative, skills-based apprenticeship model providing regional employers with homegrown, diverse talent in a low-risk trial that encourages hirers to ditch their strict resume credentials.

Apprentices are paid living wages and learn skills on-the-job and through mentorship from a senior employee. The host company gets to “try before they hire” and LaunchCode’s model seamlessly integrates with their current hiring practices. The process is a win-win and effective in filling niche skills gaps in an accelerated format–more than 90 percent of LaunchCode apprentices are hired into full-time roles, most after 90-120 days.


Just as cutting-edge as its apprenticeship program is LaunchCode’s hybrid education model, which equips students with both the technical and job-readiness skills needed to land their first tech job. Free and accessible to learners, LaunchCode’s curriculum revolves around what skills are in-demand by local employers and adapts based on industry trends–differentiating the model from that of traditional higher-education learning.

The curriculum blends part-time, in-person instruction supported by teaching assistants and mentors with online, out-of-classroom work. Another benefit of LaunchCode’s unconventional classrooms is the community-like environment it creates. Students benefit by learning alongside individuals from all walks of life, but all working towards a common goal.


Since inception in St. Louis, LaunchCode has expanded to several other cities, opening an office in South Florida in 2015. LaunchCode has hosted several iterations of their free education and job placement course in Miami-Dade and has launched nearly 200 tech careers in the region. In 2019, LaunchCode announced its first course in Broward County after receiving funding and in-kind resources for the course from The Jim Moran Foundation, The Batchelor Foundation and the City of Deerfield Beach.

LaunchCode’s impact on the Miami ecosystem is tremendous. Its students launch into life-changing career trajectories, gain financial security and, most notably, get the chance to achieve their dreams by stepping past the barriers to their success. Likewise, LaunchCode’s company partners benefit from tapping into a robust pool of driven individuals they otherwise would have never found.


Other INNOVATE® Ecosystems