May 17, 2024

We are proud of our 20-year history of being a launchpad for startups and small companies everywhere to stand out and be successful. The Marcy Lab School is a non-profit organization based within Brooklyn, New York, which aims to offer an exceptional post-secondary education experiences to help teens into lucrative and meaningful jobs in the tech industry.

We donated $100,000 to The Marcy Lab School as a part of our 2020 commitment to aid organizations in eliminating racial disparities.

We talked to The Marcy Lab School's executive director Reuben Ogbonna II, about how The Marcy Lab School is helping to create chances for Fellows to discover their talents and find careers in technology with no four-year college education.

: Marcy Lab is a fairly new organization, why did you decide to start the non-profit?

Reuben Ogbonna II: After spending 14 years serving students of color--along with my co-founder Maya Bhattacharjee-Marcantonio--in the charter and public school systems, we repeatedly watched as our former students with limitless potential slipped through the cracks of higher education. The story that doesn't often hear about the college experience in this country is that each year, a ton of really promising, hardworking students are accepted into the school that they've always dreamed of but won't be able to afford to attend or persist to graduation. We were shocked by the abysmal failure rate of "college promise" that left our students and their families in life-altering debt and other seemingly unsolvable challenges.

We joined forces to create and run Marcy Lab out of the conviction that the children of our society who are of color, and in fact every youngsters, need a better, more equitable pathway to the freedoms and opportunities that used to be only accessible for those who had graduated from a 4-year institution. Marcy Lab School Marcy Lab School offers a alternative to postsecondary education that has been reimagined and founded on our original mission of creating lifelong economic mobility and choice for students who are interested in the life-changing professions of tech.

SQSP can be described as a viable alternative to the four-year college degree for fellow students. What is the reason it's important for you to know that The Marcy Lab offers this path to employment?

RO:The challenges I witnessed my students confront firsthand were among the most prevalent barriers for children who are of colour. It became clear that the postsecondary system in our country did not live up to the promises of college most young people seek: community, support in academics, and the ability to align with not just a job but a career. It's the conscious mixture of these components that make up the foundation of Marcy Lab and are some important factors that give young adults confidence in choosing an alternative path.

In order to fulfill our new promise, we ensure the Fellows have the skills for work following our 12-month program, prepared with the skills to embed themselves in fast-paced teams and add value on the first day. Our Fellows gain technical skills by completing an industry-aligned curriculum that is adaptive and responsive to the ever-changing requirements of the technology industry. In addition to gaining a robust technical background, our fellows take part in our Leadership & Development curriculum, which explores racial identity development gender equity, career preparedness, as well as financial literacy, with readings by esteemed authors like James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, Safiya Umoja Noble, and Dr. Beverly Tatum.

We're incredibly proud to say that Marcy Lab School graduates are seeking and landing lucrative jobs that are typically only available to students from four-year institutions that are competitive. The impact here is twofold The first is that our fellows and their families propelled into positions that provide secure financial stability, but it shows the way businesses are drastically shifting hiring practices to welcome, support, and retain people who aren't traditional.

SQSP: Could you tell us a bit more about the impact that you've observed Marcy Lab School's impact Marcy Lab School have on the students who attend the program?

RO:Even after five years of doing this work I have obvious to me how revolutionary it is to see our amazing youngsters take up positions which pay an average of $108,000 per year in pay at 19 and 20 in many of the most successful companies around the globe, with zero loans. They're contributing to teams of companies like The New York Times, JPMorgan, Cockroach Labs, Spotify, , and others and increasing their earnings on average by nearly $75,000 within a single year, and also allowing them to invest back into their local communities by buying houses, helping their families' companies, and helping their families.

But even before our Fellows break into the industry and enter the workforce, we observe them learn, transform, and grow as individuals, working more than they have ever been to achieve their goals and building the confidence that they bring value to every room they walk into. They spend each day growing ever more interested and eager to make change beyond the walls of Marcy and, ultimately, their own workplaces. They work alongside their teachers and each other that they remain maintained in the knowledge that their talents, skills and abilities will enable individuals to break down old systems of injustice, ultimately using these experiences and training to develop strategies for social benefit and for the social transformation.

SQSP: What is the role that tech play in the achievement of the Marcy Lab program and its co-participants, both as subjects and in running the program?

ROOur technical curriculum's success hinges on our symbiotic relationship with our partners from the employer side in order to establish a consistent feedback loop around our Fellows' technical and work-ready. Relevant areas for improvement go straight back to our instructional team so that our curriculum can evolve and change in response to hiring needs as well as on-the-job performance.

The alignment of curriculum and student performance has resulted in more hiring agreements with companies that recognize how these tight connections can lead to better or more equal hiring results. A few highlights are:

We work directly with established businesses to remove degree requirements to hire software engineers. These include the New York Times and . They have also hired our Fellows and other non-traditional talent.

Building a new Capstone program curriculum in conjunction in conjunction with J.P. Morgan Chase Asset and Wealth Management that specialized in backend data engineering curriculum for our capstone period to satisfy their needs and prepare our Fellows for the industry's ever-growing growth in the field of analytics based on data.

SQSP How do you see your goals for Marcy Lab School's future?

RO:What is making me feel optimistic regarding the future of Marcy Lab and the future of the spaces we occupy are the evolutions happening within the corporate world with companies shifting away from degree requirements in favor of hiring on the basis of skills that has opened the door of organizations such as Marcy Lab to even exist.

I am seeing major employers all over the nation, from IBM and Barclays and even partners like  the one I work for, with a significant number of mid-career, early career, and senior leaders that came from the Marcy Lab School, similar to Stanford University's pipeline to firms in San Francisco's Bay Area. After gaining experience and experience at these top companies, I see our graduates eventually branching off to start their own businesses and transferring their knowledge by hiring teams with similar background as those they worked with.

In the end, I consider Marcy Lab as a part of a larger network of pathways for equitable development designed expressly to propel thousands of highly-achieving students who are of colour into jobs which break the cycle of poverty within a single generation.

SQSP: How do people who are interested in Marcy Lab School's mission become involved?

RO:If our mission, vision and the work you do resonate with you We encourage you to join us as a member of our community that is growing. We're hoping that we will help others be inspired as we join the movement! We often share three ways that new people can get involved:

Visit our Brooklyn campus located in Industry City and meet first-hand the young adults who are working tirelessly towards their ambitions and the impressive team who pushes everything forward.

Volunteer your time and impart your experience with our Fellows as they navigate the rigor of our program for one year, prepare for their job search, and beyond. Our community of volunteers serve as mentors, curriculum advisors as well as guest lecturers and recruiters and are crucial to our program, helping us maintain an industry-aligned curriculum as well as ensuring the overall satisfaction of all member of our fellows.

Finally, donating to our work will allow us to ensure that this program is tuition-free for our fellows.