May 17, 2024

is proud of our 20-year history of being a launchpad for entrepreneurs and small businesses across the globe to make a mark and be successful. Marcy Lab School Marcy Lab School is a private, non-profit institution located in Brooklyn, New York, with the goal of providing an exceptional post-secondary education experience to propel underestimated youngsters into rewarding and meaningful jobs in the tech industry.

We gave $100,000 to the Marcy Lab School as a part of our 2020 pledge to support organizations working toward the reduction of racial inequality.

We had a conversation with the Marcy Lab School's executive director Reuben Ogbonna II, about how the organization is creating possibilities for Fellows to discover their talents and land careers in tech, without a four-year education.

: Marcy Lab is a very new and exciting organization. Why have you decided to establish this 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 America is that each year, a ton of really promising, hardworking students will get into the college of their dreams but not have the money the tuition or stay in school until completion. We were alarmed by the abysmal failure rate of "college promises" that left our students and their families with the grip of life-changing debt, as well as other insurmountable obstacles.

We came together to build and now lead Marcy Lab out of the belief that our young people who are of color, and in fact all young adults, should have 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. The Marcy Lab School offers a reimagined post-secondary option rooted in our founding mission of creating lifelong economic flexibility and choices for the youngsters who want to pursue career opportunities that can change their lives in technology.

SQSP: This program is described as a possible alternative to a four-year college degree for fellow students. It is vital for you to know to know that The Marcy Lab offers this pathway to work?

ROThe challenges I witnessed my students confront firsthand were among the most prevalent obstacles for students from communities of different ethnicities. We realized that our post-secondary system was failing to deliver on the college promise that most young people seek in terms of community, encouragement in academics, and alignment with not just a job but a career. It's the intentional combination of these elements that make up the foundation of Marcy Lab and are some of the most important elements which give students the courage to pursue a non-traditional path.

In order to fulfill our fresh promise, we guarantee that the Fellows are undeniably ready to enter the workforce after our 12 month program. They are prepared and equipped to establish themselves in fast-paced teams and contribute value from the first day. Our Fellows gain technical skills from an industry-aligned and informed program that is flexible and responsive to the ever-changing demands of the tech industry. And alongside building a strong technical skillset, our Fellows engage with our Leadership & Development curriculum, which explores racial identity development, gender equity, professional preparation, and financial literacy, with readings by esteemed writers like James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, Safiya Umoja Noble, and the late Dr. Beverly Tatum.

We're extremely proud to announce that Marcy Lab School graduates are seeking and landing high-paying jobs typically reserved for students from four-year institutions that are competitive. The impact here is twofold It's not just that our fellows and their families propelled into positions that provide secure financial stability, but it indicates the manner businesses are drastically changing their hiring policies to accept, encourage, and keep non-traditional talent.

SQSP: Tell us a bit more about the impact you've witnessed The Marcy Lab School have on participants during and following the program?

ROEven after five years of doing this work I have obvious to me how revolutionary it is to see our amazing young people step into roles which pay an average of $108,000 per year in earnings between 19 and 20 in many of the most successful companies around the globe, with zero debt. They're contributing to teams at companies like The New York Times, JPMorgan, Cockroach Labs, Spotify as well as others and increasing their earnings at a rate of nearly $75,000 within a single year. They are also able to give back to the local community by purchasing homes, assisting their families' companies, and helping their families.

But even before our Fellows break into the industry We watch them develop, change, and blossom as individuals, striving harder than ever before to achieve their goals and developing the confidence to believe that they bring value in every space they step into. They spend each day growing more curious and more eager to make change beyond the confines of Marcy and, eventually, their own workplaces. Through their work with teachers and each other that they are continuously maintained in the knowledge that their skills, talents and capacities will allow the ability to eliminate systems of historic inequity and ultimately, they will use their experiences as well as their training to create tools for the social good and for the social transformation.

SQSP: What is the role that technology play in the overall achievement of the Marcy Lab program and its colleagues, both as subject matter experts and in running the program?

RO:Our technology-based curriculum's performance is dependent on the symbiotic partnership with our partners from the employer side in order to establish a consistent feedback loop about our Fellows' technical and professional skills. Relevant areas for improvement go straight back to our instructional team so that our curriculum will evolve and be modified as needed to meet the demands of employers as well as on-the-job performance.

This alignment in the curriculum and performance of students has resulted in the establishment of new partnerships for hiring with businesses which recognize the fact that tight connections can lead to better or more equal hiring results. A few highlights are:

Working directly with established companies to remove degree requirements for software engineers, including the New York Times and . The companies have since employed our Fellows as well as other talent that isn't traditional.

Building a new Capstone project curriculum with J.P. Morgan Chase Asset and Wealth Management who is a specialist in backend data engineering the curriculum we use for our capstone time to satisfy their needs and help prepare our Fellows for the industry's ever-growing expansion in data analytics.

SQSP How do you see your goals for the future of Marcy Lab School?

ROWhat makes me optimistic about the future of Marcy Lab as well as the future of the spaces that we work in is the changes taking place within the business world with companies shifting away from degrees requirements and toward skills-based hiring, that has opened the door for organizations like Marcy Lab to even exist.

I have noticed major employers throughout the United States including IBM and Barclays and even partners like , having a large contingent of mid-career, early career, and senior leaders that are graduates of The Marcy Lab School, similar the Stanford University pipeline that connects companies in San Francisco's Bay Area. As they gain knowledge and expertise at these elite businesses, I am seeing our graduates eventually branching off to create their own companies and paying it forward by hiring teams with similar backgrounds as they had.

Finally, I view Marcy Lab as a part in a broader network of pathways for equitable development designed specifically to help propel thousands of highly-achieving students from communities of color to careers which will end cycles of poverty in just a single generation.

SQSP: What can people who are interested in Marcy Lab School's mission get involved?

RO:If our mission, vision and work resonate with you and you are interested in joining us, we invite that you become part of our expanding community. It's our hope that we'll continue to inspire others as we join this cause! We often share three ways that new people can get involved:

Visit Our Brooklyn campus in Industry City and meet first-hand the young adults that are dedicating their lives to their goals and the amazing team of professionals who move the entire process up.

Donate to give your time, and share your knowledge to our Fellows as they navigate the challenges of our one-year program, prepare for their job search and go on to other. The community of volunteers serves as mentors, curriculum advisors guests lecturers, as well as recruitment partners and is an essential part of our program. They help keep our curriculum industry-oriented and ensuring the satisfaction of all of our Fellows.

Additionally, donating to our mission allows us to continue this program tuition-free for our Fellows.