The Academy For Software Engineering

A number of years ago, I wrote a blog post talking about the need to teach middle school and high school students how to write software. In the comments (where the good stuff happens), a Google engineer told me to go down to Stuyvesant High School and meet a teacher named Mike Zamansky who had taught him to write code in high school. So I did that and thus begun my education into the world of computer science education in the NYC public high school system. What I learned was that other than Mike's program at Stuyvesant and a few other small programs, there wasn't much. So began my quest to see more computer science and software engineering in the NYC public school system. 

Yesterday I went up to the Morris High School in the Bronx to watch Mayor Bloomberg's State of The City Address. In a speech that was largely about the intertwined nature of education and the economy, he announced that the city is opening The Academy For Software Engineering this fall in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City. It was a proud moment for me and Mike Zamansky, who was seated next to me on the stage.

I want to personally thank the Mayor, his education team led by Dennis Walcott, and his economic development team led by Robert Steel for adopting an integrated set of technology, economic development, and education policies and then aggressively rolling them out city wide. The Academy For Software Engineering is just one part of a much bigger strategy of developing new industries and new jobs in New York City and making sure we have the education resources, both in K-12 and at the college/university level, to properly staff these new industries.

The Academy Of Software Engineering is not a "specialized school." It will be open to all students as part of the high school admissions process in NYC. The City's goal (and mine too) is to open up opportunities for many more students than the small number of specialized schools can deliver. Hopefully the curriculum that is developed and teachers that are trained at the Academy will get rolled out into high schools all over the city in the coming years.

The Gotham Gal and I have provided the initial financial support to hire a new schools team and recruit a top notch Principal. But we do not want to be front and center in this story. The team at the DOE and City Hall that has brought this school to life and the Advisory Board of educators and industry leaders (led by Evan Korth of NYU) should get way more credit for what has happened to date. And we will need more financial and industry support (as well as a fantastic Principal) to make this school a success. So if you would like to join us in this effort, please email me via the contact link at the bottom of this blog and let me know how you would like to help. This is an ambitious effort and we will need it.

#hacking education#NYC#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. tyronerubin

    Was very much looking forward to fun friday but this post tops that.What a great initiative that I hope spread very far.Here in Africa we are starving for any and every for of education.We sure can learn from these initiatives.Thanks and enjoy your weekend all.

    1. fredwilson

      today should be feature friday actually. next week we will be back to fun friday with a post on nutrition



        1. fredwilson

          thank you FG. this means a lot coming from you

  2. RichardF

    kudos Fred.  This is part of both of your legacy which goes beyond your career achievements and is way more important.Legacy is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve spent much of the past two weeks in high schools around NYC. i can’t stop thinking about these kids and what lies ahead of them.

      1. Ainsley

        So great to hear that you’ve been visiting schools. If you haven’t already, I definitely recommend checking out the NYC iSchool. Interdisciplinary modules that take technology as a given are the heart of the curriculum:…I recently saw students from the inaugural freshman class present at a New School conference, and could not have been more impressed. I’m guessing you’re familiar with School of One–if not, that’s the other NYC model I’d be sure to visit (there are now a few pilots around the city). Joel Rose and Chris Rush, the founders, are two of the best entrepreneurs I’ve met. They have been practicing lean intuitively throughout the School of One development process. And one last thought–if you didn’t have a chance while you were at Morris Academy, you should spend time with the principal there, Charlie Osewalt. I mentor at the school, through a small program Charlie created. He’s devoted to those kids body and soul, they know it, and it shows in the results. 

  3. jason wright

    Venture capitalist? Social engineer. Respect.

  4. Dan Conway

    Awesome and well done to all. Hope it will serve as the model and be the start of a trend that grows nationally.

  5. Rohan

    Margaret Mead’s timeless quote came to mind.. ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ Very nice to see you, the Gotham Gal and many others changing things!

    1. fredwilson

      that is one of my favorite quotes

  6. awaldstein

    Thumbs up on this whole initiative Fred. I come from a family of teachers and scientists (all except me) so this resonates strongly. 

    1. Rohan

      And your comment resonates with me too, Arnold.My mom’s a teacher too.. and when it’s had tremendous impact on me. From wanting to be an ‘inspiration’ coach some day and being very involved in a not-for-profit that’s looking to re-invent leadership education..Huge long term impact. It’s just a pity teacher’s aren’t compensated in relation to the impact they generate.

      1. awaldstein

        My father (high school physic teacher) has been gone almost 30 years and I still have people track me down on Facebook to let me know how important he was to their lives.

        1. Rohan

          I heard this lovely piece today, Arnold.We never really leave people we love. Part of them, we take with us.. and part of us, we leave behind.When thought of over a lifetime, that’s legacy I guess. 🙂

  7. Bora Celik

    This is so great Fred. Hats off to your initiative.I sometimes wish I were in my late teens, early twenties during these times. Being 36, looking back in time, it was quite difficult for us to discover our passions and realize what really makes us happy. I can’t help but wonder all the time spent getting an MBA (which I feel now was a waste of 2 solid years), working in the insurance sector for so many years could have been much better spent with more learnings and experiences related to startup building and product development.Lucky generation really today’s youth. Just look around you and watch such young entrepreneurs building amazing things while doing what they love. It’s hard not to get inspired by that and have an easier time discovering life’s purpose.And of course, programs such as this, building a path towards a new world order where people make things, build things that help the society, make life better and more enjoyable.Thank you once again for putting things in perspective for us Fred.Greetings from cloudy London to the whole AVC community. Happy Friday everyone…

    1. ShanaC

      Happy Friday from an equally rainy NY!

      1. Bora Celik

        I miss New York. Will be there in a few weeks for the next NYTM!

        1. ShanaC

          I need to buy tickets.  Thanks for reminding me!

        2. fredwilson

          there is an emergency NYTM this coming week to stop PIPA and SOPA. wednesday i think

          1. Bora Celik

            Yeah I got the email about that but still in London then. I did however send the email to the congress using the americancensorship site. We’re coming to NY on the 5th as a part of mayor Bloomberg’s London to NYC program. Maybe we’ll see you there at some point.

    2. Trish Burgess-Curran

      I feel your pain!  It is always difficult to find your path, even today, but it was quite a bit more 15 and 20 years ago.  Still, no regrets!  I do really feel that every experience (even in insurance!) counts.  You would not be who you are today, probably not as passionate or determined, if you did not know exactly what it is that you do not want to do.  It is not time wasted! BTW, the London sky looks fairly clear from where I sit…  It is very cold though!  Happy Friday!

      1. Bora Celik

        Lol yeah I see that the sun came out now. Sign for a good day 🙂

      2. RichardF

        better cold and bright than grey and wet eh!

  8. John Best

    Congrats on a great initiative, and I wish the Academy the best.”Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”John Steinbeck

  9. Glenn Nano

    As a former middle school teacher in Harlem before working in tech investing and startups, I couldn’t be more excited about this initiative. Learning and skill-acquiring starts much earlier than most people assume, and I’ve always marveled at what young people can achieve if 1) You expose them to things with passion, and 2) You build positive, consistent incentives for learning and performing.  I DEFINITELY want to be helpful and so will send a note separately.  Great work!!

    1. fredwilson

      one of the things we will have to figure out is how to get the students passionate about math because we are going to get kids who are below grade level in math and we have to get that fixed quickly before we start teaching them software engineering

      1. Rohan

        Fred, I have a thought that might help with this. Hope you can implement it and remove the fear of failure that typically comes with Math.. The story is about how Molly Howard changed the culture at a school is Georgia by abolishing failure simply by removing the ‘F’ grade and changing it to ‘NY’ or Not Yet. 9-10ths of education is encouragement, after all.Full story is on… (Funnily enough, the comment on the story is from Joanne.. :))

        1. fredwilson


      2. Glenn Nano

        Absolutely. The sad state of affairs across NYC is that so many kids are below grade level in math and literacy, which is why starting as early as possible is always key. When I was a teacher what I found hugely effective was collaborative-incentivizing: grouping students into small teams throughout the semester and encouraging them to help each other with all processes, ranging from being prepared/doing reading to ad hoc tutoring to grading each others’ math problems. Just sent you an email – would be very glad to help implement some of these tactics without getting in anyone’s way!

        1. ShanaC

          I have friends who are teachers in the system.  They are miserable with the system too.  I have a friend who has some great math students, and students he knows may not pass the exams.  I think there is something wrong with that, and I don’t think it is his issue to catch them up.  Where are the elementary school teachers, and why aren’t there enough preschool spaces to make sure this doesn’t happen….Meanwhile I think what was once Regents Sequential Math 1 (I think it is now Integrated Algebra…) should be pushed down into 8th grade.

          1. jason wright

            “the system” – sounds grim.Everywhere I look I see organizations operating the inverse of what they were *apparently* originally set up to be and do. Why is that? What the *%#@ is wrong with civilisation? Are we a dysfunctional evolutionary mistake?

          2. ShanaC

            I don’t think we’re a dysfunctional evolutionary mistake at all.However, education here is a system – we really don’t have a tribal or farm based education system to work with from the home. Most of work complicated jobs out of the house. (the internet could change this, and that could be very awesome)The problem is that people don’t learn according to a system. And then they are stuck in it, and get passed through. it isn’t pleasant for either the students nor the teachers.What is sad in this is that the person in question is actually a really good teacher. He grades some kids stuff while out with friends to make sure it gets done.- posted via

      3. Eitan Hochster

        Dan Meyer ( gave a ted talk last year ( about why our math problems cause students to disengage and how to recreate the math curriculum to make students think. It’s really good stuff. 

      4. BillSeitz

        In at least some cases programming will finally make math understandable.Talk to the constructionist folks: Alan Kay, Gary Stager…

        1. fredwilson

          i’m going to go read them first!

      5. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        I think debate / rhetoric  skills are a great start – argument is based on reason, and logic is common rhetoric and Maths.For example consider where simple exploration of paradoxes (Socrates, Plato, Archimedes) can get you – The Slave boy “anamnesia” of Pythagoras’ theorem is a wonderfully inspiring example.and understanding fallacy can be fun, because it can be combative, absurd, nihilistic, deductive and so on. –   Plenty of scope for inspiration.

        1. fredwilson

          that’s a good idea

      6. falicon

        I think the key is to figure out a way that shows each student how Math (and a better understanding of it) actually improves their world…how it makes video games better, how almost all sports plays and formations boil down to understanding basic math, how music, cooking, cars, and just about everything they might find interesting has some solid and real foundation in math…Our schools seem to teach our kids to paint the fence, wax the car, and sand the floor…but we often lack the Miyagi skill of showing them how that relates to fighting in the real world…

        1. fredwilson

          yes. that is how we are going to have to approach it

      7. laurie kalmanson

        sputnik era education programs recognized that; hs is too late to reach the majority…The National Defense Education Act (NDEA), signed into law on September 2, 1958, provided funding to United States education institutions at all levelsThe NDEA was influenced by the Soviet launch of the satellite Sputnik on October 4, 1957. The launch shook the American belief that the United States was superior in math and science to all other countries. U.S. citizens feared that schools in the USSR were superior to American schools, and Congress reacted by adding the act to take US schools up to speed.

  10. Ray Bloody Purchase

    Great initiative – we’re really struggling to come to terms with the educational requirements of the next generation of software developers in the UK; where’s our Fred Wilson?

    1. testtest

      right! when i was in school i went to a computer class after-school and got “taught” clip art. fucking joke.getting some teachers who aren’t retarded would be a good start.



    2. John Best

      Indeed, Michael Gove (UK Education Secretary) seems to have angered IT teachers. In attempting to give them “freedom” he seems to be withdrawing support –… – and setting IT as a subject to have an even greater range of performance.Fancy a trip across the pond, Fred?  

      1. fredwilson

        i will be in london with gotham gal in mid may

        1. John Best

          Aces, I’ll keep an eye out to see I can catch you speaking if its for an event. If its for a vacation, let me know and I’ll see point you at some hidden gems to see.

          1. fredwilson

            Its both actually

          2. John Best

            I’ll send you over some info then 🙂

          3. kenberger

            if you can disclose which event, pls do. i’ll be over there then.

          4. fredwilson

            a board meeting

          5. kenberger

            ah- it said “speaking at an event”, but seems it isn’t so.

        2. Rohan

          Awesome! Look forward to meeting you guys in person! :)Maybe we should do a London AVC meet up! 🙂

          1. John Best

            That sounds like a plan. 🙂

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Maybe ask Luke Johnson, the entrepreneur and investor who writes the weekly column about entrepreneurship in the FT. He’s an advocate for entrepreneurship (though not specifically software stuff). Maybe he could stir something up. Here’s his email address: [email protected]

  11. testtest


    1. testtest

      and it would seem ‘primus inter pares’ is appropriate, as well.

      1. fredwilson

        latin is making its way slowly but surely into this community

        1. Otto

          et en français

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            Como?  Lo siento, pero mi teclado no habla español.

  12. Miljenko Hatlak

    From a perspective of someone living outside US I just have to congratulate you! The same effort New York is making in building up new industry is needed throughout the US and rest of the world. Governments usually think that writing software is easy and that teaching students how to use computers is just enough. So they provide schools with computers and other equipment (if they) and after that everything rests on the back of CS teachers. No matter that I studied CS, majority of the stuff I know is a result of self learning and learning on errors. Passing the level from knowing basic programming to knowing how to write usable software is really hard. Internet is full of resources, tutorials, open platforms but initial guidance is crucial. Here in Croatia from this academic year plan is to introduce computer education in first grade (age six), students regularly achieve excellent results on various contents and at informatics Olympics. But that just isn’t enough.

  13. Spencer Fry

    This is one of the coolest things to happen to NYC… ever. Both my parents are professors and I mentioned to them about what you’re doing. They’re both super enthusiastic and hope more of these types of schools proliferate across the country. We’re actually seeing that a little bit of this happening in my hometown of New Haven, Connecticut where my parents live and teach at Yale. A huge congrats to you and the Gotham Gal for helping to put this together.

    1. fredwilson

      this model can work in any city if the local establishment wants to support it with philanthropy

  14. rich caccappolo

    tremendously exciting, Fred – for the kids, for the school system, for the city, and the tech ecosystem here within it. Congratulations and thanks. There are a great many people here in NYC and who read this blog that will want to assist with this effort – let’s find a way to harness these communities to make this initiative a truly noteworthy success.

  15. William Mougayar

    What a proud accomplishment for both @thegothamgal and you to see this come to fruition, from its beginnings to its realization.Making these changes at the source enables even bigger change ahead.

  16. Mark Essel

    Dude, you and GG rock.This is huge. Possibly the biggest impact thing you have done for the future, and that’s saying something.Now, like another child, you have a great responsibility to continue to support and nurture the school and see that it grows into what you imagine it will become. Please let us know how we can pitch in (not just money, but time, teaching, etc).

    1. fredwilson

      in school teaching opportunities will be there for those who want to do that

  17. Jan Schultink


  18. JimHirshfield

    Wow, this is real change. I can’t imagine it was easy to persuade officials and bureaucracies. Congratulations!

  19. bfeld

    Phenomenal Fred. I’ll send you a note separately to provide additional financial support – I’m in and a huge believer that we need this badly.This is hugely inspiring for an idea we have been working on in Boulder we’ve been calling “The Software School.” We are focused on two different demographic sets (existing software engineers who don’t have “modern” skills; younger smart kids who want to do software stuff but don’t feel like college, or who went to college but didn’t study computer science.)Thanks for the leadership here. Huge win for NY City and for anyone who is a high school student.

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Some VC’s venture only to increase capital.but some understand it is “capital” to venture”In a fundamental sense, capital consists of any produced thing that can enhance a person’s power to perform economically useful work”…If “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” – William Butler Yeatsthen you Brad,  Fred ,  Gotham Gal and parties to this are lighting torches to enhance our collective power .- So – Thank you !

      1. bfeld

        In an exchange we just had, Fred said “I believe there is nothing better we can do with our profits than replant them as seed corn for the next generation.” I agree 100%.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Fred knows I am passionate about such things – I simply applaud you :)Hint : ask him for his criteria for success – he may well recall 🙂

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. fredwilson

        that’s the idea. we (me and GG) want to take our profits and plow them back as seed corn for the next generation. it’s self interested philanthropy.

        1. baba12

          Longterm strategy, very different mindset than most in the financial services sector and those that they serve. I hope someone else like you takes similar position with regards to Life Sciences and the role of software engineering in that sphere.Congratulations for wanting to create wealth in a long term manner.But I think there is more than just wealth creation, it will endear people  to the Wilson’s for helping lay the seed… Let it germinate and take root…Kudos Mr.Wilson.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Philanthropy is generally long term, even when practiced by those in the financial services sector. For example, as far as I know, former Citigroup chief Sandy Weill hasn’t tried to flip the Weill Cornell Medical College.

      3. Shawn Cohen

        This is similar to C.S. Lewis’s quote: “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.”

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Shawn – never heard that before, thank you  – but I always liked “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ― C.S. LewisIf you ever read his Screwtape Letters they are simply fantastic as a bittersweet irony piece on what it is to believe one is spiritual vs what it is to be geniuine.  Swathes of hypocrisy are harvested in very few words.

          1. Shawn Cohen

            I’ve read almost everything by CS Lewis, except his more esoteric lit analysis works. Excellent, timeless writer:)That’s a great quote, too. Thanks for passing it along!

          2. Donna Brewington White

            My husband and I are going to a performance of Screwtape Letters this evening.How nice to see Clive quoted at AVC.



    3. Mark Essel

      That’s a great concept. I’m coming from the older engineer category that has been getting down and dirty with modern web app coding, data analysis and persistence. There’s a great divide between designing, developing and testing large simulations and data analysis tools in c++, and constructing a scale-worthy cross platform app.It’s slow going on nights and weekends. Having a community to interact with helps, and github only goes so far. Roadblocks can kill a mountain of enthusiasm, and a bit of guidance at the right moment can melt those barriers.

      1. bfeld

        That’s one of the initiatives we are working on in Boulder (we call it CodeStars) – basically, school for experienced software developers using modern tools and approaches.- posted via

  20. ShanaC

    Knowing how nuts the NYC public school system is – this is ambitious.BUT, why are you not going to the Board of Regents and make basic comp sci required for a Regents Diploma (and I know about the effort to unify NYS curriculum with some sort of national standard that is voluntary to join.  Yeah students moving, blah blah blah, I want my nonexistent kids to learn something where I am currently, which is NY)At a minimum, NYC is separately incorporated, why not push that the diploma given by the city (not the state) requires a year of CS.  We could merge Environmental Science and Biology! (and I like Biology and Environmental Science)I’m sorry for sounding slightly pissed, but I was required to get a regents diploma, and I know where they work and they don’t (*cough*physics*cough*)

    1. fredwilson

      you have to start somewhere and do something. what you are suggesting is great but requires a completely different level of effort and patience. i don’t have much patience.

      1. Edward Kim

        I’ve also thought we should make CS part of the standard curriculum. But I think Fred’s right about effort and patience. There’s also the issue of quality. It might be more productive to focus on a few great schools at first, and then hopefully find a way to scale without losing quality. Long time reader and first time commenter. Such an awesome initiative!

        1. ShanaC

          First off: welcomeSecondly: Is education really scalable, or is it bespoke because we’re all individuals?- posted via

      2. ShanaC

        If I get project a and project b off the ground (project a being further along than project b) I’ll figure out how to push that agenda)But you’re right, much like you I may not have that level of patience. I think I’m frustrated about how we have left quality in exchange for systematizing teaching, and it is damaging schools and kids along the way… :(- posted via

  21. Steven D. Royster

    Great initiative.  Once validated, would be great to replicate in underserved cities across the country. 

    1. fredwilson


  22. ShanaC

    Also, later, what do you think of the controversy surrounding bonus pay and turning around those 33 schools.  I’m sure you heard about that…it is all over the radio right now….

    1. fredwilson

      i listened to the mayor’s speech very carefully. i was sitting basically right next to him so there was no choice (no texing or tweeting :)i’m with him on this one. you do all you can to get teachers to the level they need to be at. but if after trying everything they can’t perform, you have to move them out.and offering cash compensation to recruit and retain the best teachers makes common sensethe teachers union is so out of touch with the real world, it is a huge problem

      1. Shawn Cohen

        RE the teacher’s union being out of touch, I find it extremely interesting that a private donor is funding this initiative. Sadly, I think it reflects on the near failure of the public school system to cultivate a large, disruptive network of passionate students. It seems like this cultivation can’t take place unless people outside the system step in and help.

      2. LE

        “the teachers union is so out of touch with the real world”I’ve had extensive conversations with various NYC teachers one even was able to retire in his 50’s (taught in Harlem).  We even have an on going joke that always includes the phrase “Randi’s got my back” (referring to Randi Weingarten).  Another in her 60’s did nothing the last year at her school since she couldn’t be fired. She showed movies in class and did nominal work. And didn’t even have any shame talking about it. Was bragging actually. It’s not that they are out of touch with the real world. They have a union contract and change is not to their benefit. So obviously they are going to reject anything that makes their situation worse.



        1. LE

          “VERY HARD JOB NOT PAY ENOUGH FOR PERSON GOOD AT IT”I’m guessing that what you are saying is not the same as saying “pay teachers more”. The problem is there isn’t enough money to pay all teachers more in order to  get a better quality person teaching. And I don’t think that’s the answer. Your statement got me thinking about what makes a great teacher. I turned up this relevant article. It’s a long article so I’ve attached a screen grab (click on “original” in the popup to enlarge) which highlights what at least one organization found to be qualities of what they thought made a great teacher.…Seems to me from reading this that those people don’t appear to be motivated by money although I’m sure they would like to make more money obviously. Perhaps many of the wrong people actually become teachers because of the money and the fact that they perceive it to be easy. It’s not a 12 month a year job. You get summer off, all major holidays, get to retire after 30 years in many districts. It’s not a bad deal.  What makes it bad depends on the district you are in. I’ve heard some teachers want to be in bad districts because they have to work harder to satisfy parents in the better districts. Rich people are demanding. 

          1. BillSeitz

            I think the way that education is controlled by (a) StandardizedTests, and (b) a Union more interested in teacher-job-security than teaching excellence, is a bigger good-teacher-eliminator than pay scales.

      4. ShanaC

        I know, from having friends that teach. other problems include that the debt to loan ratio for becoming a good teacher is a bit unsustainable, so keeping those teachers in the school system becomes a crazy exercise of how compensation works…when it should be about teaching- posted via

  23. John Revay

    Joanne and Fred Wilson – making a difference!

    1. fredwilson


  24. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Anything that promotes learning must be good.   So Great !However (no disrespect), I feel that the old “teach yourself ethos” of hacking remains a great empiric filter. It means you only end up hacking if you are passionate. And IMHO passion is necessary for high quality disruptive tech.However, climbing off my soapbox – Great chefs need passion, but it is good that we all understand how to boil water, toast bread and… so education for all – another thumbs up.

    1. BillSeitz

      *Everyone* should learn how to program a little.…

  25. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Sorry for being skeptical..I noticed Mike Zamansky’s recent tweet and it made me worry about the initiative. As the “Sculptor” of the program please do make sure it reaches the target.Can’t comment like bfeld … but as much as i can … will do anytime for education anywhere.

    1. ShanaC

      No worries, I’m skeptical too. And annoyed that it isn’t nyc public school wide.  Maybe I hope for too much.

      1. fredwilson

        in time shana. you have to walk before you run

  26. Trish Burgess-Curran

    Congratulations to you, GG and, most importantly, to all NYC kids!  

  27. rich caccappolo

    Finding the right principal for the Academy is going to be a huge factor.  Can you go outside the DOE system to recruit? 

    1. fredwilson

      yes, but what i’ve learned from going to schools is that the thing we need most is someone who can run a school, recruit students, recruit faculty, and set the overall tone and culture of the school. that is likely to be someone who has done this successfully at least once before

      1. BillSeitz

        He’s probably not the right person, but Michael Strong might have some ideas/contacts.…

        1. fredwilson

          any idea how i get to michael?

          1. BillSeitz

            I met him f2f a few years ago, I’m happy to email you both if/when you want.I think his book has a chunk on his charter-school experience. (I read an early draft, so I’m not sure what bits ended up in print.)

  28. Kevin Friedman

    Fred, you picked the right guy to reach out to! The Z Man (as we called him) was my CS teacher at Stuyvesant in the late 90s and he was awesome. I’m sure he’s responsible for me being the coder that I am today. Thank you Fred and thank you Mike!The Academy For Software Engineering sounds amazing. Is there anything that we coders or entrepreneurs can do to help with this initiative?

    1. fredwilson

      yes, there is an advisory board if you have a lot of time to give. and there will be in class opportunities once the school opens. and then internships in a few years once the kids have the basics down. we need help on all of these things

      1. Josh Haas

        It would be amazing if there were a way for developers to come in and tutor / do small group work with the kids for a couple hours a week.  I would sign up instantly for that, and fight to get all my other dev friends on board.

        1. fredwilson

          that is absolutely part of the vision.

    2. SF

      Even I have heard of him – and I did not even go to Stuy. My own shout out to Mr. Weinstein of Brooklyn Tech – and CS AP course he taught that got a bunch of MIT/Harvard/Columbia/NYU/Stony Brook and Penn people into technical careers.

  29. Jonathan Whistman

    Congrats!  Very much needed.  My son enrolled in high-school programming and computer classes but was disappointed that much of what he is learning is outdated or things he has already absorbed on his own outside of class.  I think the pace of change in the tech field creates the side-effect of teachers easily becoming outmoded if they don’t keep engaged.  At my company we are inviting young students in to participate in our product, design development meetings and to work next to our code engineers.  I’mm finding it creates a good environment for my team and the kiddos love it.

    1. fredwilson

      yes. we are going to have to get these kids out into the real world via internships once they have the basics down.

  30. Peter Sullivan

    Congrads to this initiative Fred! I was really proud of NYC when I read this yesterday. Gets me excited for moving back!

  31. Mike Kijewski

    This is one of the coolest things you could have done, Fred. I’m looking forward to Peter Thiel paying all of the school’s graduates not to go to college 😉

    1. fredwilson

      i am sure it will happen

  32. markslater

    awesome – hats off.

  33. TomThompson

    As a parent of two kids in NYC schools (one in middle school and one at Stuy), and with family who teach, I’m hugely grateful for your work here. The system has enormous problems that can feel intractable, but I’m heartened by these new efforts.

    1. fredwilson

      public schools are hard. it was clear sitting there yesterday listening to the mayor how hard they are. but his administration has made a big change and the results appear to be pretty good so far.

  34. Cynthia Schames

    Absolutely fantastic! It’s a proud day for you and Joanne, I’m sure. THIS is the point of making money and being successful. I really want to help and will email you separately.



      1. William Mougayar


        1. Cynthia Schames


          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  35. falicon

    Can we make the mid-terms one big week-long hack-a-thon every year?  Bring in startups and engineers from around NYC to give presentations and work with the kids on various and interesting hacks?  Give each team of kids a chance to present and show off what they built through the week…

    1. fredwilson

      yes! that is a big part of the logic of locating the school in union square, near General Assembly and Techstars and a ton of startups. we want the community engaged in this school

      1. Ana Milicevic

        There’s also a good opportunity for mentorship — pairing up engineers from tech companies in the city with individual kids, teams or entire classes in an advisory role.

        1. ohpauleez

          I think mentoring via pairing is an AWESOME approach to pushing technical education.  I got my first job at a startup when I was 16, and it made ALL the difference!

          1. fredwilson

            i totally agree

  36. nickgs

    This is excellent. Thank you for your commitment to this initiative, very important work! I remember very well when I was in HS (’96-’00) I attended the AP Computer Science program offered at my school (Long Island NY). These classes where VERY challenging and many failed. I still believe this laid the ground work for my passion for building software and put me way ahead of most of the students when I got to college. I wonder if these programs have been enhanced at all over the past 10+ years. 

    1. fredwilson

      i sure hope so

  37. Rob Hunter

    Thanks Fred.  It’s really great to see folks working on education, in both a private and public sense.  The country most assuredly needs it.I hope your project is successful and copy-able – to see initiatives like this spread couldn’t possibly be a bad thing.Good luck!

    1. fredwilson

      we have a bunch of education initiatives, both USV and my wife and I personally. as the mayor said yesterday in what was a very good speech, education is everything

  38. Tom Labus

    Congrats, this can be a great program for the city kids.  Great teachers and programs have lasting effect and can change lives.My wife’s mom taught at 102 in the Bronx for 30 years and even after she retired her old students now adults would always knock on her door and tell her what an impact she made on them and give her a hug.Leahy saying this morning PIPA needs “more study”.



      1. LE

        I know you’re making a joke but for anyone not familiar with NYC schools they go by number. ps102 in in the Bronx.

  39. Jill

    As a NYC public school parent, I thank Gotham Gal and you! 

  40. Brandon Burns

    Amazing! An added way to help:In-school programs are great, but that doesn’t guarantee that the right students will want to take those classes, if very many at all. Often times you get one type of student who knows that, in this case, “tech is cool”, but it’s not even on the radar of kids who come from homes where they’re being pushed into other directions. One simple way to fix this is to sponsor a career day-esque program where local professionals go in and 1) be “cool” so the students think their jobs are “cool” and will want to take classes to be like them one day, and 2) hype up the in-school curriculum as well as extracurricular resources that will further help the students reach their goals. I ran one of these programs for the ad industry; the hard part was that most schools/teachers wanted the events tied to their curriculum/classwork and organizing that was hard, especially with so many processes already in place. But this Union Square school is being built from the ground up, so figuring out how to infuse NYC professional volunteers into the curriculum would be much easier… if the effort were to start now.I’d be more than happy to help if anyone connected to this new school is interested.

    1. Brandon Burns

      @mikekarnj:twitter this sounds up your alley. 

    2. fredwilson

      great advice brandon. i will add this to the “list”

  41. Patrick Campi

    Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Polarizing people on the pin of a need! As a NYC parent I applaud the effort. Some people may see “need” but not many take action!!  Well done!

  42. Jen Berrent

    This is a tremendous initiative (as everyone here has noted) – especially leveraging what you and your community know so well to help improve educationI have been wrestling with the NYC school system as I try to find an appropriate kindergarten for my son who needs a special ed environment.  On the one hand, some of the absolute best schools in the world for kids with learning disabilities are here (primarily private) but on the other hand, it is a complete maze to find them and if you do not get in, I have not found a good “Plan B”.  Throughout this process, I have been trying to think of ways to pay-it-forward to help those who come after me (and leverage the knowledge I have acquired).  As an aside, there are likely a lot of kids who are in special ed environments who could be fantastic coders – I would think many learning disabilities (or other issues, such as aspergers/autism) that make a traditional school environment difficult, would not impact coding abilities and, in fact, those kids may excel at it. 

    1. fredwilson

      this school will have its share of special ed kids. that is part of what it means to open an unscreened school in NYC. i hope you are right that we can help them become good coders. that would be wonderful

  43. Frank Denbow

    Thank you for your commitment to this! It is an honor to be involved in this, as it has been a dream of mine to be a part of the shaping of an education experience. Taking CS courses in high school remains the deciding factor in my personal involvement in the tech industry and I know we can help shape he futures of other young people by exposing them to the possibilities of a tech career. It will certainly take lots of work to get it right but I am optimistic about the future of this effort.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for all the time you are putting into this Frank

  44. ohpauleez

    Fred, This is definitely a move in the right direction but the real challenge will be producing REAL software engineers and not just programmers.  There has never been a challenge for high school age children with access to the internet/library/bookstore to learn to program.  Finding programmers in the workforce is also not a problem.There is a shortage of real software engineering talent, however, and that’s a much harder problem to solve.  I don’t have the answers, but I’d be willing to work with anyone to help get there.Take a look at education-related publications by Spiros Mancoridis as a good starting point.…Paul (Etsy, OurShelf, Code for America, PushButton Labs, Tutorspree)



      1. ohpauleez

        /me pets the dino gently- “Good Dino”The problem is that great programmers are still often terrible software engineers.  Most software projects fail not because a lack of raw programming talent, but a lack of real (software) engineering talent.  Software architecture, validation, verification, real HCI techniques applied to smart design, software project management – these are some of the areas where I see individuals (and startups) struggle most, and they are also the hardest areas of our field.Simply teaching kids how to program isn’t going to make the state of things any better.  Real problem solving skills, with a focus in smart software engineering, and programming through a sound solution – that’s what is going to make a difference

    2. fredwilson

      i agree. this is no panacea. i am very realistic about what we can do here with this student population. we will not create real software engineers in four years from the place where they will start. but we can get a meaningful percentage of the students to a  place where they can go on to a four year CS program and then into a great workplace and all of that can make them into real software engineers. it’s a funnel like everything else. but you have to start somewhere.

      1. ohpauleez

        I totally agree, planting the seeds of a great engineer is more important.  But be careful about the goal to guide students “on to a four year CS program.”  That’s my exact concern.  Most people don’t want to be Computer Scientists, they want to be Software Engineers.  Focusing the early curriculum around SE (see my comment to Grimlock block below) and pairing them with real SE practitioners (see my comment on pairing with startups) would be a great goal to see accomplished.Parnas wrote a great paper about the differences between SE and CS programs and why the former should be pushed more than the latter:

        1. fredwilson

          thanks for that link. i will read it.

  45. pointsnfigures

    Congrats.  I have a friend that started a high school (charter) in a poor neighborhood.  He had a lot of problems with “the system” to set up his school, even though he had the mayor’s support.  The unions really gave him a hard time.What are you finding in NYC?

    1. fredwilson

      same thing. this is hard work. and we will fail as much as we will succeed, particularly in the early years. but to me this is just another startup. and i am committed to see it through, like everything we take on.

  46. kirklove

    Awesome. Congrats to you and GG and everyone who is making this happen. And thanks.

  47. RV

    Much respect for taking action and caring.  Thank You. 

  48. Siminoff

    Fred what a awesome thing that you and GG have done. Congrats!

  49. Richard

    While I like the idea of an academy, I like a virtual academy even better. Standord’s virtual machine learning class this past November / December had 10000 active students. It was amazing. Something happens when students take classes virtually they become a community.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree with you that online tools like codecademy and kahn academy are likely to reach more students and have a greater impact. but for kids like the ones we are targeting, i think we need to do more than just give them tools.

      1. Richard

        Even for the kids that you are targeting, my sense about the future of education  (based on my time spent pursuing degrees spanning from engineering to law to decision science) tells me that a “superstar” educator using the tools employed by institutions like Stanford  (… could be a superior model, particularly if the metric is spawning both the  “black swan”, the exceptional programmer and the mass of  professional programmers needed for economic development.The computer language seems to be the 2nd language that new grads need to master. Perhaps adding a AP class?

  50. mikenolan99

    Very timely post.Next week I present at the Minnesota House of Representatives on the topic of Youth Entrepreneurship. I would love the community to help me prepare.I’ve been asked to cover three main topics:How do we become a state of Entrepreneurs?  What is missing from K-12 and our Universities? What are some best practices currently in place?I will mention this model – but would love to hear more ideas.

    1. Dale Allyn

      Tim Draper has been interested in (read: passionate about) teaching entrepreneurism to students at a young age. You may find some pearls by digging around what he and his project do. Here’s a link to an article about it:…And here’s The BizWorld Foundation, the non-profit project he started. I have no affiliation with this, nor knowledge of the efficacy other than what I read. Just thought I’d add it here in case it helps your process somehow, Mike. Correction: changed “not-for-profit” to “non-profit”

      1. mikenolan99

        Thanks Dale,Great suggestions – I appreciate them.My son attends a camp each year presented by – a Minnesota non-profit that provides educational curriculum.  Bizworld is a great organization, and I had overlooked them in my prep – thanks again.

    2. LE

      “How do we become a state of Entrepreneurs”One thing that can be done is to encourage children at a young age to start a business where they deal with people and experience a complete business transaction. I don’t mean a lemonade stand. I mean something they make, a service they perform, or a product they sell. One that people actually need. It could be something that requires them to go door to door to get customers. In high school I detailed cars and cold called  to obtain work. (One lesson: when knocking on doors in upscale neighborhoods take your girlfriend with you – makes people more at ease.) I also did photography and a market I picked up was legal photography which required me to cold call law offices, determine pricing, as well as setup billing and collect money. You’d be surprised how many lawyers had no problem making a high school kid wait months for $60. That experience alone helped me when I had to give credit in another business with larger amounts. I could go on and on about the benefits as well as my experience but I think the advantage of having this seat of the pants feel early on is obvious.  It also helped me earn enough money to start a real business after college.

    3. fredwilson

      earlier this week the Gotham Gal brought David Karp, founder of Tumblr, to my son’s high school. next week i will bring Phin Barnes, one of the early team members at And One to the school. we do this on a regular basis to show the kids that entrepreneurship is real and tangible and there for them if they want it. you need role models to move kids

  51. Brandon Marker

    I want this in Texas public schools more than anything (and for Rick Perry to be removed from office so that our state education system can recover, but that is neither here nor there). I have been trying to figure out a way to begin a non profit and start a movement. I am still in brainstorming phases obviously!In the future I hope to have a level of success that will allow me to put forth an initiative like this one in Houston and Austin. Kudos to all of the people participating, and especially Mike Zamansky. 

  52. Mordy Kaplinsky

    Kudo’s on this great initiative.  When this is successful it will hopefully proliferate as an a model beyond NYC and help resolve the shortage of engineering talent nationwide.

  53. JaredMermey

    This is awesome. Well done to everyone involved. Beyond mentorship with all the startups in town, will there be any collaboration with the CS and tech programs at the university/grad school level in town? It is great to see so much investment in human capital at all levels.

  54. Dave Pinsen

    Congratulations and well done. You deserve a lot of credit for this. The city and the students who will attend this school owe you their thanks.Starting this school seems like something that will make a material difference for many students. Nice work.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks Dave. 

  55. laurie kalmanson

    Amazing and awesomeWhat would it take to have it replicate in every high school? In middle school? In elementary school?What would it take to make the learning environment, support and resources that parents and children experience at the best schools the standard for all schools?As a country, we can pay for schools or we can pay for prisonsThis is an amazing and awesome step in the right direction.

    1. LE

      “we can pay for prisons”A thought I had recently was for a startup like codecademy to provide  education for  prisoners in enough math and basic skills so that they could then learn to program.  While gaining the basic skills would take time (many don’t even have a high school education) the one thing prisoners have is plenty of time. Everyone knows anecdotes about jailhouse educated lawyers. I can’t think of a better benefit to society than educating prisoners so they have future employment. It’s a huge market. And there is money available.”Funding for the programs are provided through official correctional department budgets”…

      1. laurie kalmanson

        anything that helps people in prison prepare for life outside of prison is a step in the right direction


        ME LIKE.DO IT.

  56. Jared Cosulich

    Fred,I’m currently working on which is meant to make it as fun as possible for people to learn how to program by allowing them to solve and build physics-based levels like Angry Birds.It’s meant for all ages, but I designed it with 8-18 year olds in mind as I thought a lot of the existing stuff was either too hard to get started with ( or too dry ( – (both are great, and I may be wrong about them, but I wanted to try and create something that required no installation and was more puzzle-like).Anyways, Peanutty might be a great way to help students learn how to program in your new school. Let me know if there’s any way I can help make it more accessible.It only works in Chrome right now, but I’ll get it working in other browsers soon.http://peanutty.orgJared

    1. fredwilson

      we have an advisory board of college CS teachers and industry people like Joel Spolsky and HS teachers like Mike Zamansky. they are going to help the Principal and the teachers decide what tools will be used. peanutty looks interesting

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve been working the phones the past couple days talking to senators, representatives, and their staffs. while there may be more concerns being raised, i still feel we are not winning this fight yet

  57. Dale Allyn

    Great work, Fred and Joanne. A truly meaningful contribution to society. What a important example this sets.

  58. Todd Rankin

    Great to see so much reinvestment in CS / Software engineering education at the earlier levels.  I am part of an initiative which in part seeks to encourage this in WY and Jackson Hole. For too long both State and city have been too reliant on energy and tourism as the economic drivers and those “silver spoons” will not last. There is some suprising strong tech talent here, but we need education reinvestment. I look forward to learning best practices and advice from both NYC and Boulder initiatives. Thnks.

  59. laurie kalmanson

    longer rant of praise, admiration and calls to action to make this happen everywhere here:…for there to be national funding of math and science at the level needed k-12 it has to be named and framed with the urgency of the space race and the cold war

  60. DanielHorowitz

    Hey Fred – This is awesome. Keep up the great work. 

  61. Miriam Bhimani

    This is a fantastic idea. As someone who is now self-teaching myself computer programming now, I support this line of curriculum for our students in earlier grades. I wished I had this opportunity when I was in school — and furthermore, as a woman learning this, I think this is a great opportunity to potentially provide opportunities for girls earlier in the pipeline.Also, as someone who used to consult in technology integration in NYC public schools (and taught in Detroit and Chicago Public School systems), I have seen what the front lines look like in many of the schools in the city — how the teachers work, how the student work and where there are still gaps in curriculum, leadership, efficient delivery of content. This is a great undertaking and will be awesome to see come to fruition.I know many in NYC who could be great resources for this project and have passed this post along. I’d love to see the efforts that go into this first hand!

    1. fredwilson

      i have spent much of the past two weeks in public schools trying to get to the front lines and see what we are really getting ourselves into. it has been eye opening but it only makes me want to do this more.

      1. Miriam Bhimani

        I would encourage you to also visit K-5 and 6-8 schools to see what the environment is like heading up to the high schools. There are some great things going on in schools and there are places where schools need an incredible amount of support — not just with the infrastructure in the school, professional development (not just for the teacher who is teaching it but for all of the other teachers the student will encounter so there can be a web of support created — which can be difficult), and community infrastructure to name a few. I’d also be curious how this initiative will be affected by the Common Core Standards and what those assessments will look like and if schools will fall back into, what gets measured, gets done. I think it’s a spectacular initiative and one that will help our students be more aligned with economic needs — the trick is moving the education bureaucracy in that same direction.

  62. Danny

    Fred, let me know anyway I can help as well. Also tell me what you think of my latest article about filing my first patent:…

  63. Saleem

    im from pakistan .. i want that  i also make my students more educated in computer science and here real computer studies is started at  higher level classes but this is absolutely wrongi want that a child who wants to be an engineer of software must start his computer education in school level then he will be able to be a good engineer ..if anyone can help me to provide more choices and better idea please share 

  64. Aaron Klein

    Absolutely incredible, Fred.I think we rued the day that we took vocational education out of high school and this is a great step towards fixing that, and with exactly the right vocation, too.Bravo!

  65. karen_e

    Thanks, Fred and GG for your efforts. You are blowing our minds once again. You show us what fun it is to give generously of heart and mind. I am so proud to play a small part in this community.

  66. Alan Warms

    Fred -This is awesome. I would love to try and bring this idea here to Chicago – Mayor Emanuel is all about trying to get community colleges here a lot more focused on job skills required by local employers and this is one step better.  Any materials available to share?Al

    1. fredwilson

      i saw your email Al. i will respond to it. digging out today

  67. MogulAzam

    Great News I think is an awesome time to be young and in school.  I thought I grew up with the PC and technology.  It must be amazing growing up totally immersed in the Internet.  Simple things just makes the process easier and faster to learn.  Also the environment is likely be more creative and exposure to new technologies.  I think computer science or programming should be required on some level, just like a second language.

  68. William Mougayar

    Fred, you’re quite humble. I had to read this other take http://www.businessinsider…. and the Mayor’s page to fully comprehend the impact and magnitude of this undertaking. Wow. This puts a total new dimension on the typical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) focus. And once propagated across other cities and states, it will impact the US economy in a big positive way.And it’s a great example of public-private partnership that has entrepreneurial roots and government backing and understanding. I read the summary of Bloomberg’s plan and it’s mind-boggling to see how well thought out all these projects are. It seems that the Mayor listens very well to the needs of the city and he delivers.… 

    1. awaldstein

      Thanks for the link. Yes, this is a big deal.Fred and Joanne…well done! This will make a difference. You already have.

      1. William Mougayar

        I can see a big trickle effect upcoming. – posted via

  69. jerrycolonna

    Breath-taking buddy. Really wonderful.

    1. fredwilson

      we should get together and talk about this f2f. i could use your advice on some stuff.

      1. jerrycolonna

        I’ll email you now…

  70. aarondelcohen

    Fred, as you know, I have a 6th grader who will two years away Academy eligibility when this school opens.  I’m excited to have this option and will connect with Evan on helping.  Aaron

  71. bsiscovick

    Thank you, Fred. This is absolutely wonderful. 

  72. Andrew Greene

    This is impressive. Congratulations. Thank you for your commitment.

  73. Adrian Palacios

    Fred, I know a lot of people were involved in this, but as someone who deeply values education I just wanted to say thank you. I hope the initiative taken here inspires many others to help out, and wish you all success. Please keep us informed as to how we can help out.

  74. Brad Lindenberg

    This is great – a giant leap in terms of putting NYC on par with SV in terms of a tech hub that is attractive to the young and hungry who want to live in NYC. Awesome.

  75. Donna Brewington White

    Fred, this is truly fantastic!  Congratulations to you and Gotham Gal!  I imagine that whatever you have revealed here of your involvement is only a small part of the story.What a great coming together of passion, resources, vision and heart to make something wonderful happen for the good of many….including using all that comes with being a VC to sponsor a different type of venture.  I can only hope that what you are doing in NYC and what @bfeld:disqus is doing in Boulder will spark this in other cities.  Los Angeles, hello?You have begun to convince me that what is good for NYC is good for the world.

    1. Otto

      “…what is good for NYC is good for the world.”Except the Yankees.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Ha! Touche!

    2. fredwilson

      i hope this effort will inspire others in other cities. that was not part of the initial goals but it would be a wonderful thing if it were to happen

  76. Stop SOPA

    Great post Fred! It would be a shame if this type of tech innovation was limited because of #SOPA – check out this interesting op-ed about how SOPA is a threat to NYC’s growing tech industry:…

    1. fredwilson

      i spent most of my day yesterday working the phones on this issue. there is so much misunderstanding of the piracy issue in congress.

  77. Dave W Baldwin

    Good job Fred.  You’re laying out a good foundation. 

  78. Michael Zeldich

    Establishingthe new school of software design did not have much sense if it is possible to designan artificial subjective system capable to solve the creative tasks. Developingof such systems will constitute the end of programming as the profession. Wouldyou like to discuss?917816-4477; Skype: Subjective1The basis of the approach could beillustrated by the following definitions of an agent capable to demonstrate areasonable behavior: “We could define theagents as an entity that interacts with the environment be guided by its ownsubjective representation of the past known to it. Each such agent im­plementsa function that maps the desired future subjective representation of the stateof the environment to the sequences of the possible to take actions to bringthe environment into the desired state by executing its own abilities and theaccessible to the agent resources without necessity to be explicitlyprogrammed.”Thatapproach is built on the solid factual basis. AI paradigm is built on the misleadingopinions, instead.Youcould notice that I did not name an artificial system “Reasonable”,or “Intelligence”. Actually there are no references to so calledmental functions at all because it is not possible to implement them in theartificial systems, and that is not the requirement for the development.The realsystems on the basis of the explained below approach could be developed in veryshort period of time and be very profitable. As theexample we could take a system for robotized care giving (RoboCareGivers).Simple calculation is show that 400 machines is enough to pay back $ the last2 years of 5 years project.

  79. CJ

    I think this is awesome, I wish we had this sort of leadership here in Chicago.  We seem to be on a course of privatize to enrich the pockets of others rather than to enrich the minds and lives of the students.  Bravo!



    1. Donna Brewington White

      But probably the least tasty.

  81. Donna Brewington White

    I hope you intend to post information about the principal job here so that we can all rack our brains for suggestions and help get the word out.#crowdrecruiting

    1. fredwilson

      we need someone who can run a school in the city with all that comes with that first and foremost. and we need someone who can recruit a star faculty into a brand new school. and we need someone that parents can look in the eye and trust that they will make a difference for their kids. those are the big three requirements.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Ah, Fred, I think you missed one crucial skill of your principal, he also needs to be able to motivate, fire up, and be passionate, about the students.

        1. fredwilson

          yes, absolutely

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Good, then I hope you realize that that puts FAKE GRIMLOCK in the candidate pool! :)Or maybe a “Fake Grimlock” version of FAKE GRIMLOCK.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        What’s the timing? I want to keep an eye out and when I can shift my focus some, put this out to my networks. I am sure others would want to do the same. Those of us who are interested can create verbiage to share — actually what you’ve said here is pretty compelling. But it would be great to have something more detailed at some point — like some of the recruiting efforts you’ve done at USV — those have been fantastic.I haven’t made a study of this, but I’ve seen some organizations recruiting out of the business world for school administrators — both at the district and local level. I think this is a really good move — particularly for a role like this! I know a former retail CEO who helps run a charter school program — a great transference of her skills and leadership ability. That’s the thing — leadership ability. This is not always promoted in school administration and is vital. Maybe a reason to go outside academic circles. I am supporting a college president search right now and most of our candidates are from outside the academic world for this very reason.However for a startup school, there may need to be someone on board early on who does understand the particular requirements that come with a school.In spite of what I said above, I know that there are good leaders who came up through the school system — my sister is a perfect example, but tech is completely foreign to her or I’d recommend her.

  82. markjosephson

    Wow. What an amazing gift. Congrats Fred and Joanne.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks Mark. haven’t seen you in a while. let’s fix that.

  83. Bala

    Brilliant work, will definitely make an impact in the community. Congratulations Fred, you are really moving and setting the standard high for other VCs to follow. I have learnt that it can never be just about the big hit portfolio company but building an eco-system that can sustain itself. Some are lucky to be in that eco system but for others initiatives like this would greatly enhance the changes of success. Kudos to you and Gotham Gal. I think this effort like these are needed all over the world. Everyone talks about India when it comes to IT talent or large supply of them but I know many young students don’t have that many opportunities so they fight to get educated in Computer Science and software space. I will follow this model here in Iceland… I don’t like to re-invent the wheel just watch you 🙂 and make the change

  84. matthughes

    This is a big-time win.I’m very happy for everyone involved.

  85. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    As I become more involved in the AVC community I have been thinking a lot about what I call “downstream” or now what I refer to as “the great divide” which is basically the gulf that I see developing between places like NYC, or Boulder, and where I live.I would love create an opportunity for young people, here locally, to become part of this innovation revolution and just yesterday I had a conversation about what the first step should be and I would LOVE input from the AVC community.I think that our start is to create an environment where kids can explore and share their ideas, a place where they are exposed to all that is going on in regards to technology and innovation; a place or zone where they can hang out, and explore all the various ideas and projects that are cutting edge and begin to become part of the innovation conversation.Once again, I fall back to the past and think about the young person who goes to a movie and then makes it their goal to go to NYC to act on Broadway, or moves to Hollywood from their small hometown.I want to develop something that changes the perspective of most of the young folks I meet locally from being one that technology or the internet is something they use to something they can become part of.It would help rather than me trying to stumble with words to develop this idea if I could point to what others are doing and say, “…this is where we need to start.”Any ideas and or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.Oh, and Fred, before I forget, I will have pictures along with an explanation of something that I believe that Shapeways needs to seriously consider:  Pop Up Shops or Kiosks in college bookstores.  Cafe Press is installing one in our local college bookstore; they should complete it on Tuesday and they have been kind enough to offer to walk me through it and explain their thinking behind it on Tuesday.   

    1. fredwilson

      this is important work Carl. you must do it. we need entrepreneurship everywhere. we need our schools to incorporate entrepreneurial thinking and examples into their curriculum, we need role models, and we need internships.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        I agree it is important work, but there is a fundamental difference in perspective, and I maybe wrong.I see entrepreneurship not as something that can be taught or structured. You can create an environment that fosters it, an environment where seeds planted sprout quickly.To me entrepreneurship is an attitude, a perspective, a way of looking at the world, rather than a skill set.Or, let me try it this way, I agree with what you are saying, and honestly, you are attempting to create the Julliard School of of Arts for innovation and entrepreneurship while from where I am sitting, I just want to get young people to realize what art is and that they too can dance, act, or play an instrument.I applaud what you are doing along with everyone in NYC, Boulder, and SV, but I realize that here, in Kentucky, my “roll” in this is to be a feeder, but like yesterday, a comment was made, “…but why would we want to educate only to have the kids move to NYC?”To which I could only respond, “…why would we want to hold our best and brightest back?”To me the founding principle of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity is empowerment and exploration but locally, education is about indoctrination.As I see it, you are creating the Academy in an existing environment and it makes perfect logical sense, and all I am attempting to do is create an environment because I believe environment first, see what develops or sprouts, then support that development, foster it, expand it, with structure.I make it a point to visit the local university because I am looking to hire kids who show a “spark” or as I say, who get excited with the term “why not?” rather than “why?” Mind set over skill set.Yes, the local university wants to create an innovation center or a center for entrepreneurship and I want to take a section of the student activities center and create a “pit” a place where kids can hang out and collaborate and explore together, with only basic structure and adult supervision.Like I said yesterday, “..facebook was spawned in a dorm room not a class room….”One professor yesterday mentioned how hard it is to find textbooks that are useful and I told him that the people who should be writing textbooks about entrepreneurship, start ups, tech, and innovation are BLOGGING and what he needs to do is to develop his course around BLOGS not textbooks!I even gave him AVC, Suster, and quite a few other links…..I know Seth Godin believes we should be thinking along the edges of the box, but what he fails to realize is that “edges” of his box are WAY outside the box for everyone else….

      2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        I agree it is important work, but there is a fundamental difference in perspective, and I maybe wrong.I see entrepreneurship not as something that can be taught or structured. You can create an environment that fosters it, an environment where seeds planted sprout quickly.To me entrepreneurship is an attitude, a perspective, a way of looking at the world, rather than a skill set.Or, let me try it this way, I agree with what you are saying, and honestly, you are attempting to create the Julliard School of of Arts for innovation and entrepreneurship while from where I am sitting, I just want to get young people to realize what art is and that they too can dance, act, or play an instrument.I applaud what you are doing along with everyone in NYC, Boulder, and SV, but I realize that here, in Kentucky, my “role” in this is to be a feeder, but like yesterday, a comment was made, “…but why would we want to educate only to have the kids move to NYC?”To which I could only respond, “…why would we want to hold our best and brightest back?”To me the founding principle of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity is empowerment and exploration but locally, education is about indoctrination.As I see it, you are creating the Academy in an existing environment and it makes perfect logical sense, and all I am attempting to do is create an environment because I believe environment first, see what develops or sprouts, then support that development, foster it, expand it, with structure.I make it a point to visit the local university because I am looking to hire kids who show a “spark” or as I say, who get excited with the term “why not?” rather than “why?” Mind set over skill set.Yes, the local university wants to create an innovation center or a center for entrepreneurship and I want to take a section of the student activities center and create a “pit” a place where kids can hang out and collaborate and explore together, with only basic structure and adult supervision: The less the better.Like I said yesterday, “..facebook was spawned in a dorm room not a class room….”One professor yesterday mentioned how hard it is to find textbooks that are useful and I told him that the people who should be writing textbooks about entrepreneurship, start ups, tech, and innovation are BLOGGING and what he needs to do is to develop his course around BLOGS not textbooks!I even gave him AVC, Suster, and quite a few other links…..I know Seth Godin believes we should be thinking along the edges of the box, but what he fails to realize is that the “edges” of his box are WAY outside the box for everyone else….

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          1)  In talking to business/manufacturing people in your area, remember their opinion can often be from POV of training kids specifically and only for their firm.  Don’t argue with them, but it happens.2)  Push for those that are inspirational to communicate with the kids.  Easy to sit back and wait for the system to do as system is supposed to do, yet it is fun to spark the mind of a kid after school in Boys/Girls Club.3)  It often comes down to ‘JUST DO IT’!  Over here in Southeast Missouri, we are in our third year of FIRST Tech Challenge (18″ cubed robots) and I’ve put together our first team for FIRST Robotics Challenge (2’x3’x5’h robot).  What is good about the latter is it is stacked with kids on the outskirts of Cape who have a ‘get it done’ work ethic.  Last year, most anyone would say I couldn’t do it.  Now we are.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Dave,I sat on a board at the local university with other business leaders to advise about how education can benefit business. Which ended up creating what I call the “5 1/2 year four year degree.” I argued for deconstruction of the core curriculum and more interdisciplinary electives and ended up with more required accounting, management, and marketing.I recently sat on a panel of our local chamber where the topic was what could the state do to foster job creation, and yes, we had a whole lot of complaints about not being able to hire people who know how to run a particular machine in someones manufacturing plant.Gee, are we programming robots or educating young people. I always thought that the probationary period was a time where YOU trained your new hires to the requirements of your particular equipment. Its kind of like when I use a temp service and they want to know what software experience I need; well, we wrote our own software and there is no way anyone outside of our company could be “experienced” with our software.I have done the Junior Achievement and Boys and Girls Club thing, in fact I was one of the key sponsors of the first ever Soap Box Derby locally. But realistically, I like to break the ground not hoe the weeds, so I realize I can start something but I do have to get behind and support people who will do the work.I know we have a group that sponsors robotics and that we also have something developing with some Lego challenge; and again, what I want to develop is a way to turn these little pockets, these groups, into a community wide endeavor, not just in robotics but also in art, science, math, literature, whatever….That is what I am trying to figure out. The trouble is I am a “just do it” type of guy, and I am a disaster in the world of committees, boards, and groups. Got to work on my patience and learn to let the passion simmer rather than always boiling over.

    2. BillSeitz

      The suggestions that come to my mind are: 1. find the teachers that are already demonstrating an interest in such things – they’re probably running certain after-school clubs, or teaching hands-on stuff or maybe STEM. Just start networking to find out how to integrate with the school system. Maybe there’s a way to start an after-school club with more freedom than most of them…2. talk to local CommunityCollege. Some of them run classes that younger kids can take. Those teachers and current students can be the start of a network.3. Start a CoWorking MeetUp, declare it to be at your favorite coffee shop, and set up a standard weekly session where you sit there with a coffee and a sign on your table. Again, you might meet some people this way.This process could lead to bottom-up discovery of some pocket of existing interest/demand which you could start with, and then broaden your scope over time….

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Bill,Those are all GREAT ideas!I stumbled on AVC about six months ago and its taken that amount of time for me to start to get my arms around “the problem” and now its time to explore what other people think in the local community.I keep thinking about the Occupy movement and the criticism of them, because I can relate to the sentiment of wanting to change things, but not knowing what to change, where to start, or how to organize…One can FEEL that change is needed but to go from a feeling to an idea is a real journey of trial and error.

  86. Peter Bordes

    Bravo Mayor Bloomberg and a big thank you and congratulations on a very smart program Fred. This along with the new Cornell technology and the new incubator in the Bronx really completes a much needed opportunity value chain from k12 up. This is where all the growth is, and fuels the NYC economy with bright minds and ideas!I see a digital renaissance period happening in nyc thats going to make it the global center of all things digital.. More than happy to contribute to this in any way possible.

  87. Dave W Baldwin

    Just in case you missed, a story of inspiration:…We do need to push Math/Science.  Everyone needs to do so in their communities.  Yet, don’t forget about Language Arts.  For instance, the screw up being fixed on the MLK National Memorial is due to a numbers person http://www.washingtonpost.c…@tao69:disqus is right Fred regarding the Principal.  Best bet is to find a coach who actually has knowledge/appreciation for tech.  Just as important is his/her ability to turn it on boys who make stupid comments regarding girls.  I always have fun with that.

  88. Guest

    When it comes to eduction (seeding new ideas in people’s minds) my feelings are best expressed by Thomas Jefferson letter to McPherson:…”He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening mine”Many teachers enter the eduction system with the same mind set…but are bruised and battered after a few years by the buraucracy, the lack of resources and respect. And I got a feeling that IT is one of the least “broken” subject.There a signs that it is slowly changing. These are coming from people like Sir Ken Robinson and products like the Raspberry-Pi ($35 eductional computer). As a father of a 3year old everyday I wonder what his eduction will look like regardless of what he chooses to do but I have hope that he’ll be coming home after school and #beonfire, thanks to initiatives like yours! Assuming robot dino’s don’t take over the world or I don’t become obsolete, we may #beonfire together…

  89. Shannon

    This is very exciting news! I work for a company called  We provide Virtual Online Curriculum to middle and high school students and undertand the importance of preparing students for STEM based careers!Congratulations!Shannon Project Manager-NYC/[email protected]

  90. fredwilson