New tech fellowship rolls skills and service into one

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By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT

A national nonprofit with roots in Montana plans to launch a new fellowship this year, turning graduates of the Big Sky Code Academy loose on the state’s nonprofits to help improve their technology.

Founded by the America Campaign, the new fellowship – Code4Philanthropy – provides graduates of the Big Sky Code Academy’s 12-week boot camp with a stipend in exchange for service to a nonprofit.

“We created the Code4Philanthropy Fellowship after working with thousands of nonprofits over the years, and seeing their need for improved technology solutions,” said Devin Holmes, founder of the American Campaign. “Our fellowship provides individuals with an opportunity to serve the nonprofits in their community while gaining valuable and marketable experience with the latest software development languages.”

Holmes, who recently located to Missoula with his wife, said the new fellowship was inspired by the successes of other service organizations, including AmeriCorps and VISTA.

He said the America Campaign looks to apply tech-based solutions to create a positive impact on local communities, and to give students the skills needed to compete in a shifting job market. The organization is also behind the Montana Code Girls initiative, which teaches participants how to write code and create a business plan.

“By harnessing the desire of our young adults to serve their communities with the innovative curriculum we’re teaching at the Big Sky Code Academy, we were able to combine the service year and coding boot-camp models to create a unique fellowship that will help modernize our nonprofit community,” he said.

The academy opens this summer and enrollment in the program is underway, Holmes said.