I'd like to announce something that a few of us have been working on for some time now. My colleagues at The NYC Foundation For Computer Science Education and I are raising a $5mm seed fund to invest in computer science education in the NYC public school system. The Gotham Gal and I have been investing out of this fund for several years, and now we are now opening it up to others who want to participate alongside of us.
Though we call this a seed fund, and we do think of it as an investment vehicle, this is a non-profit entity, 501(c)(3), and any committments to it are tax deductible and you will not be getting any money back from us. But you will be getting karmic value in that 1.1mm kids (the largest public school system in the US) will be getting exposure to computational thinking and learning how to code.
If you, like me, had that life changing experience some time in your childhood where you entered some instructions into a screen and the machine executed them, well then you know the power of coding to make you think differently, make you think more, and endow you with superpowers that others just don't have. If you want to help me inject that experience into the NYC public school system, then think about investing in this fund alongside us.
If you want to change something as large as the NYC public school system, you need to start small but think big. We have started with a friends and family round and have some things to show for it.
Now it is time for seed capital so we can replicate these programs in more schools and back new programs, like Code.org, and help them come to NYC. That's where this seed fund comes in.
Eventually, it will be time for a growth round, and that's where the large philanthropic organizations come in. If you work at or with one of them, please reach out to me and we would love to come talk to you about what we are doing.
All of this investment is leveraged by the significant investments the NYC Department of Education is making in new schools, new school leaders, new curriculum, teacher development, and over 80,000 teachers. Think about it this way. The one time investment we made to get the Academy For Software Engineering off the ground is less than 20% of the annual operating budget of that school, all of which is funded by the NYC Department of Education. The power of public/private partnerships is that private capital can fund new things, that when they work can be scaled by public investment. That's what we are doing here.
On November 18th, we are hosting an event at USV where we will talk in more detail about how we intend to invest this $5mm fund. It will be 6pm to 8pm in the USV Event Space. Because we can only fit about 60-70 people in that space, attendance is limited to those who can make a $5,000 investment or more. If you would like to come, please RSVP here.
We will be doing a crowfunding campaign so that everyone can participate in this fund. I plan to announce that next week so stay tuned.
There will also be opportunities for everyone to volunteer time instead of money. We are already seeing the power of that in action and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who is taking time out of their day to go into schools and teach kids to code.
I got to this place initially out of self interest (how to get more coders for our portfolio companies in NYC?), but it quickly became about way more than that. When you walk into a school and see kids from neighborhoods like Brownsville and the South Bronx sitting in front of laptops and making software using modern tools like Ruby On Rails, Github, and StackOverflow, you see a pathway for them and for our city and for our country to change what ails us. This is about that. I hope you will join us in this effort.