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Free coding classes, boot camps and workshops from non-profits.

Given the shortage of qualified coders and IT professionals in the United States, it's no surprise that coding boot camps from non-profits have become extremely popular. They offer free programs around coding, programming, and other technical skills. These coding classes as well as workshop programs can be very beneficial to low income families and those who want new skills but may not be able to afford college or pricey technical schools. In contrast to the traditional computer science degree, these non-profit coding camps focus on teaching core employable tech skills as quickly as possible.

There are for-profit programs, colleges and other places to gain new skills. However they often require tuition or at least a considerable deposit. That often puts them just as far out of reach as college is for job seekers. However, that's not always the case. A number of non-profit groups are getting involved with coding and IT training, giving low-income workers an attainable and relatively quick path to a sustainable career.

The following programs offer free tech training. They can help immigrants, people seeking new skills, the under or under employed and others. Or those who are in the “gig” economy, that want the last coding skills, may also find these free non-profit programs very valuable. One has a "deferred payment" plan, but the rest are completely free to qualified job seekers.


freeCodeCamp is a good choice for those looking to learn a specific coding skill from home in a self-paced setting. This non-profit organization offers certification courses that are entirely online, self-paced and free. Interested students can learn about information security, responsive web design, JavaScript, front end libraries, data visualization, and APIs in depth; each course consists of hundreds of hours of training.

There really aren't any screening requirements to be eligible for these web-based programs; if you've got a web browser, you can create an account and get right to it. The downside is that there is no post-certificate job search assistance or financial aid as there is with some of the more intensive in-person programs.


This non-profit is another option for those looking for an online program. Free training courses are available over the internet, and learners have the option of applying for an apprenticeship with companies located near one of LaunchCode's hubs.




LaunchCode's central course is divided into three units. The first unit covers programming fundamentals, and the second covers web applications. For the third unit, students can choose a specialized track such as C#, JavaScript or ASP.NET MVC. The full program takes 20 weeks. The only prerequisite is that the student have a laptop running a Windows version no older than 7.

Once complete, LaunchCode students can apply for placement in an apprenticeship with one of the organization's partners. These opportunities are presently located in and around Kansas City, Saint Louis, and the Miami and Tampa metro areas. However, the site does mention that they occasionally have a partner opportunity outside these areas. The apprenticeships generally run for three months before the partner company makes a permanent hiring decision.

Per Scholas

Per Scholas got started in the South Bronx in 1995 refurbishing used computers for area schools and low-income families. The group still operates in New York but has also expanded to seven other cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Newark.

The organization offers a variety of IT and coding programs that are 100% free; they don't ask for deferred payments from graduates. Students need to be able to attend in person on a Monday-Friday daytime schedule, and the course offerings vary by city. Some examples are the CodeBridge web development program, the Systems Administrator course with CompTIA and AWS certifications, and Cyber Security with a Cisco CCNA certification.

Courses are conducted in a "boot camp" style that assumes no prior IT knowledge and usually runs for about three to five months. New courses begin as often as once monthly. The contact phone number is 404-793-2309.


This company offers a program that lasts 10 to 12 months in the student's choice of languages: iOS, Android or full-stack web development. The program assists students in obtaining a job at the end of this training period, and then provides a further three years of one-on-one support while the student is in the payment period.

The cost is 10 to 20% of the student's salary during those three years of support, but only if they earn a salary of at least $60,000 at a tech industry job. Payment doesn't begin until the student gains employment in a position that draws on the skills they learned in the program.





The one big limitation is that Pursuit is only available in Queens, NY. Students do need to attend classes in person throughout the length of the training. Pursuit has recently announced plans to expand beyond New York at some point, however.

Revature coding boot camp

Revature's 12-week coding boot camp offers free courses in Java and JavaScript, C#, SQL, AWS, Hadoop, CSS and HTML. What makes it different is that students are considered employees and can continue working for the company as a consultant once their training is finished, with placement available in a number Fortune 500 companies and federal agencies.

Students who are accepted to Revature's program get a small travel allowance for relocation, paid accommodation for the length of the program, free books and a living stipend. The program is currently available in Dallas, New York, Tampa, the Washington DC metro area and Morgantown, WV.

It's an attractive program, but not as entry-level as some of the other programs listed here. Applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree, though it doesn't necessarily have to be in a tech subject. Dial 703 570 8181.

TechHire - federal government coding grant program

TechHire is a centralized federal initiative that provides grants to non-profit employment service providers, state government agencies and community colleges throughout the country. TechHire providers have a good deal of flexibility in the types of programs they can offer, so long as they address the national labor shortfall in the more entry-level IT and coding jobs.

There are currently 237 TechHire providers distributed throughout dozens of states; they're generally found in the largest of the cities and counties. The programs offered vary greatly from provider to provider, but cover the full spectrum of tech skills commonly needed in business environments: DevOps, cloud computing, web development, data science, hardware support and more.

So how do TechHire programs work? Each individual program has its own requirements, but participants usually need to be in the 18-29 age bracket to qualify. The programs are generally no more than a few months in length, as one of the core tenets of the initiative is "Models for training that prepare students in months, not years." The programs also frequently have a hiring on-ramp component to help graduates move directly into jobs.

The Odin Project

Like freeCodeCamp, The Odin Project offers fully online and self-paced programs in a variety of tech and coding topics: web development, Ruby and Ruby On Rails, SQL, JavaScript, HTML and CSS. The programs are structured with individual lessons.

As with freeCodeCamp, this doesn't lead to a job offer or internship nor does it have any financial assistance component. It's as convenient as it gets, however. The program is also geared to total beginners who may not have any prior IT experience at all.





Year Up

As the name indicates, Year Up is a one-year program that teaches a broad variety of both technical and business workplace skills at no cost to the participant. The program has corporate partners that students prepare for an internship with; students receive a stipend both during training and during the internship, as well as college credit for some of the classes they take. Students are also paired with a mentor through the length of their training.

Year Up is focused on training young adults age 18-24. The program is currently available in 15 states, usually located in each state's largest city or metro area. Call 855-YEARUP1.

There are a number of non-profit organization that are trying to help people gain skills in today’s high tech economy. Coding is so critical, and the free programs and courses are very beneficial. These organizations also continue to expand to more states and cities, so try them for information on free computer programming and coding.

By Jon McNamara

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