Grammy-winning recording artist Ne-Yo wants to diversify the tech industry and is putting his money where his mouth is. In 2017, he invested in the Holberton School’s $2.3 million funding round and is now watching the school’s progress.
Students in Silicon Valley’s Holberton School, a two-year coding academy targeting underrepresented groups, are not required to pay tuition — they pay 17 percent of their salary to the school for three years once they find a job after graduation. Holberton grads have gone on to work for Apple, NASA, LinkedIn and Facebook.
The school does not use formal teaching methods — the students teach each other and complete projects throughout the program.
Ne-Yo said the Holberton School’s commitment to diversity is what attracted him to the organization.
“Little black kids growing up don’t say things like ‘I want to be a coder when I grow up,’ because it’s not real to them, they don’t see people that look like me doing it,” Ne-Yo said to TechCrunch. “But tech is changing the world, like literally by the day, by the second, so I feel like it just makes the most sense to have it accessible to everyone.”
Ne-Yo wants to be hands-on with the Holberton School and plans to continuously visit the school.
Holberton School has raised an additional $8 million and is using the funding to open a new location in Connecticut, with the goal of providing access to students who do not live in technology hubs.