Code To Success

Five years ago this month, we were recruiting the first class of students to enter The Academy For Software Engineering (AFSE), NYC’s first public high school dedicated to studying software engineering. A lot has happened in those five years; AFSE opened, AFSE attracted a great faculty and student body, AFSE built a modern curriculum to teach software engineering to a diverse student body, AFSE became one of the best performing high schools in NYC, AFSE inspired NYC to do CS4All, and, last spring, AFSE graduated its first class.

To say that AFSE has been a success would be an understatement. It is one of the finest high schools in NYC, often competing for students with the likes of Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, and Bronx Science.

The initial funding for AFSE came from the Gotham Gal and me. Then, when we started CSNYC, it took over supporting AFSE. Last year, AFSE took over the responsibility of raising funds for itself and did its first fundraiser.

It’s second annual fundraiser, called Code To Success, will be held on Thursday, March 16 from 7-10pm at Yext’s NYC Offices. I am hoping some of you would like to attend and support this incredible high school.

The school has set a goal of raising $100,000 which will allow AFSE to continue to provide the following resources which are not funded by the NYC Department of Education to its students:

  • Each student is matched with a professional, college-educated mentor from iMentor for all 4 years of high school. This means an email each week, an in-person meeting each month,  and a go-to person for each phase of high school. In the past, mentors have been a key resource for assisting AFSE students with SAT preparation, completing college applications, and applying for financial aid, which many of our students are the first in their families to apply for.
  • Each student receives personalized college counseling through junior and senior year, as well as financial support for SAT/ACT exams, public and private college application fees, college visits and college deposits.
  • Each student who is on track for high school graduation but not on track for college graduation is invited to participate in an intensive OneGoal course for the last two years of high school and first year of college.
  • Each student has access to job shadowing, internships, and other work-based learning experiences to build their personal resumes and apply their learning in a real world context.

The Gotham Gal and I are supporting this fundraiser and we hope some of you will choose to do the same. Visit to buy your tickets or donate and help AFSE continue to succeed.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Last year I couldn’t attend, but donated. Ditto for this year on both counts.I think this is probably one of the most important philanthropical (if not, the most important) initiative that Joanne and Fred have, in the tech space.

  2. Thor Snilsberg

    AFSE is an example of how visionaries can change education. How many times could NYC replicate this story? NYC has the most STEM jobs in the country. About 55% of the NYC is black or hispanic but only 14% of the STEM workforce is black or hispanic. The untapped human and economic potential is tremendous. Everyday we see 6th, 7th and 8th graders experience coding for their first time in CityScience’s LEGO EV3 programs. It blows your socks off to see how quickly they get it.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Yes this year we came in third in States during Lego Robotic League. We have two at the office.

      1. Thor Snilsberg

        Congrats on strong teams. EV3 are addicting toys!

        1. PhilipSugar

          They are great for kids. Great introduction to computers with the physical aspect. No different than understanding calculus through physics.

    2. fredwilson

      it sure does!!!

    3. jason wright

      “The untapped human potential…”Kill tech immigration NOW!

  3. Mike Zamansky

    Very worthy fundraiser but just as last year, I’m saddened that schools have to raise so much externally for critical supports like mentoring rather than it being part of the basic school budget.

    1. PhilipSugar

      The flip side is when the money comes from outside there are not as many strings and politics involved.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        Too often the money never comes at all 🙁

        1. PhilipSugar

          I don’t want to get political but from what I have seen too often it goes to administrators administration and contractors that have “special deals”IMHO I don’t think we have a funding issue as much as we have a spending issue, and that means having a budget that resembles a company (admin less than 10%) rather than a bloated buracracy

    2. LE

      Where is the money going to come from Mike? In the state that I live in roughly half (54%) of the (.034x$property_value) goes to the schools!! [1] That’s a huge amount. Compare it to what you pay where you live.From what I read NYC spends a whopping $20k per year (more now I think) in 2014 per student. The state that I am in spends $19k roughly in the area that I live. I was really surprised when I found out those amount. And in the last election cycle some people wanted to add college education as well figuring we would just grow the money on trees I guess.Bottom line: There are lots of things that society needs to pay for. Good health care, education, infrastructure, police. Not enough money to pay for all of it. And education isn’t honestly more important than the other items.[1] So on a $1,000,000 house the property tax per year is roughly $34,000 or $2866 per month!

      1. Richard

        Wow, that’s a huge tax rate. Between healthcare and schooling and tax system, households without kids are subsidizing a lifestyle!

      2. Matt Zagaja

        NYC has some of the most expensive housing in the world. It’s not terribly surprising that their costs for everything, especially labor, are much higher than elsewhere. Given the S&P 500 went up 12% over 2016 we don’t need trees to get money from, America’s golden goose continues to lay eggs.

    3. fredwilson

      me too Mike

  4. PhilipSugar

    I would implore people to do this yourself locally as well. Fred is a shining light on this. Locally we sponsor Zip Code Wilmington

  5. kirklove


  6. jason wright

    Code Node NYC

  7. awaldstein

    This is goodness.A great initiative and congrats to both Joanne and Fred for making it so.

  8. Jonathan

    Fred…thank you for this initiative. I will make sure to support.

  9. Joe Cardillo

    Way cool, it’s good to see programs like this that support students all the way through the stack. Was reading about one of our local ones this morning (https://www.teachforamerica… ) and the more opportunities like these that we create, the better.