It's one of the best-kept secrets in the state, a coding academy preparing students for high paying tech jobs. But some of the students at the non-profit school are in need of an essential tool, laptops.
"It's an industry that is moving upward, and so we want to be a part of it and kinda create like a Silicon Valley right here in Mississippi," said MS Coding Academies instructor Herbert Brown.
Tucked away in a loft in downtown Jackson is the hub of learning in Mississippi's coding world.
Eighteen students are in this first class of the Mississippi Coding Academies Jackson site. Classes are 9-5 Monday through Friday.
The Mississippi Development Authority, Innovate Mississippi, the community college board and community colleges fund the nonprofit and provide everything including classroom laptops.
"We want them to be able to give the opportunity to not only show the work that they're doing but to also work from home and hone in on their skills," added Brown. "So we need some laptops they can take home."
The free 11-month course teaches high school graduates with no coding experience four computer languages, affording them the opportunity upon graduating a starting salary of $50,000.
According to industry experts, there are 1,200 open coding jobs in the state.
Michael DeGrado travels daily from Benton. The 19-year-old has completed two years at Hinds Community College.
"I know that sometimes depending upon the degree that you choose, you may not get that and having the possibility of being able to get that pay per year with something like this is wonderful," said DeGrado.
D'Ebonie Johnson, who is also in the first class, has a business degree from USM but is looking for tech opportunities.
"I didn't want to end up in a dead-end job, and I believe that this coding class would be able to help me to do what I ultimately want to do which is own my own business, a small business consulting firm."
Richard Sun is a Co-Founder of the MS Coding Academies and is the Entrepreneur in Residence at Innovate Mississippi. Its offices are in the same building.
He issued the plea for laptops for the non-profit academy.
"We were surprised positively that a lot of them wanted to work at home," said Sun. "So just like any other startup, when we see a need or way to fine tune the model we went out looking for additional laptops".
If you would like to donate a laptop you can take them to Innovate Mississippi at 121 North State Street, Jackson MS or call 601-421-3435.
For more information go to Mississippi Coding Academies website.
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