Code Tenderloin (CT) was born out of the growing need for tech workers and the desire to better the lives of those living in the surrounding impoverished neighborhood. Located in San Francisco’s underbelly, known as the Tenderloin, CT thrives in an area notoriously known for its poverty, crime, drug abuse, and homelessness. However, the stretch is also the epicenter for major tech companies such as Twitter, Yammer, Spotify, Square, and Zendesk.

CT operates around a 5-week “bootcamp”, where willing participants from the Tenderloin area are taught html and CSS coding, as well as soft skills in proper interview etiquette. Additionally, the students are assisted in creating and updating their resumes and cover letters. At the completion of the program, the students emerge with the capacity to enter into the workforce. Furthermore, the students have the opportunity to attend TechSF, which is a city-funded organization that has a partnership with CT. The nonprofit offers certificate programs in specific areas of coding such as graphic design, web design, and motion graphics. Upon certification, students are more qualified for entry-level internships and jobsCT operates around a 5-week “bootcamp”, where willing participants from the Tenderloin area are taught html and CSS coding, as well as soft skills in proper interview etiquette. Additionally, the students are assisted in creating and updating their resumes and cover letters. At the completion of the program, the students emerge with the capacity to enter into the workforce. Furthermore, the students have the opportunity to attend TechSF, which is a city-funded organization that has a partnership with CT. The nonprofit offers certificate programs in specific areas of coding such as graphic design, web design, and motion graphics. Upon certification, students are more qualified for entry-level internships and jobs.

Neil Shah, Head of Development and Partnership for CT, left a career in finance and found his niche in volunteering. After getting connected with CT’s founder, Del Seymour, Neil found himself working as a full time volunteer for the nonprofit. Neil took it upon himself to look through the city, county, and state investment board plans through the year 2020. The plans would most heavily invest in employing people in middle skill jobs, requiring the level of education that is more than just a GED but less than a bachelors. Thus teaching web design and html CSS would be the most useful and opportune tools.

CT initially ran on a 4-week program, where the focus was geared towards soft skill training. As head of development and partnership, Neil connected with a number of HR departments on Market Street, San Francisco’s hub for tech companies. At first, the recruited students were taken to off-sites where they were learning how to write cover letters, resumes, and were prepped on proper interview etiquette. Although these skills were useful, they were not elevating the students to obtain internships or entry-level jobs. Neil realized the program needed to be taken a step further, and decided to partner with Hack Reactor, a coding school also located in San Francisco. The organization licensed a 5-week tech program for nonprofits, and if Neil could sustain the program with his own instructors and project management, then Hack Reactor would provide him with free funding.

Prior to CT’s popularity, students were found through recruitment and also by word of mouth. Neil and other volunteers sought out adults who were willing to step out of their comfort zone. People were becoming employed and keeping their jobs. Eventually, recruitment was unnecessary, with the program reaching capacity. The program has employed 55 people, with a high retention rate of 85%-90%.

Neil sees big things happening in CT’s future. The last three months have been great for the company, as they received contributions from the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development and Benchmark Capital. Now, CT is fully funded. With more funding, the organization will be able to scale up. CT will soon open an office space on Turk and Taylor, a street corner with sentimental value. Known for its 14 felonies, the location is widely known for its high crime. However, this site makes it the perfect residence for CT. It has the advantage of being close to tech companies, while also dwelling in the heart of city’s neediness.

with grace and tenacity

CT students show that no matter where you come from, no matter what situation you’re in, it is always possible to make a change. The door of opportunity is wide open, and it’s up to you to step through it.

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