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John Zitzner, President of Friends of Breakthrough Schools, congratulates Matthew Fothergill (right) after graduating from We Can Code IT with help from a $2,000 Breakthrough scholarship for parents with children in the charter school network.

Cleveland Dad Transforms Life and Career with Breakthrough Schools & We Can Code IT Partnership

CLEVELAND, Ohio – June 26, 2017 – Matthew Fothergill sends his 13-year-old son to Breakthrough School’s E-Prep charter school to give him more opportunities to succeed in life. Now he wants the same kind of success for himself.

At age 36 with a high school diploma and a full-time job in building maintenance, Fothergill started taking courses to learn computer coding and software development. It all came about because of a partnership between the Breakthrough School network of high-performing free, public charter schools and Cleveland’s We Can Code IT coding bootcamp.

“Our son’s school sent home a flier about We Can Code IT courses for parents and my wife gave it to me,” recalls Fothergill, the father of three sons. “I wanted to earn more money and do more with my life, so I decided to choose a path in coding and software development.”

With an interest in computers but no technical background, Fothergill took the assessment and was accepted into the 20-week part-time evening program at We Can Code IT. Last Friday, Fothergill graduated during Career Day, where local employers came to see teams present new apps developed during the hands-on course.  “It was a very big challenge for me, but I loved it, and I refused to quit! By the end of the course, I began to see myself as a developer,” says Fothergill with a smile.

Katie Grootegoed is Director of Technology Enhanced Learning with Breakthrough Schools. “By partnering with We Can Code IT, we can reach more Cleveland parents with better opportunities and we plant seeds for our students that they can do this, too. There’s no better role model than a parent.”

The program provides training for those who can’t afford college – with hopes of saturating the Cleveland area with competent programmers who can meet growing employer demands. Breakthrough already provides coding and robotics instruction to their K-8 students. “We’re fostering a love for programming at an early age and setting students up for success,” says Grootegoed.

The We Can Code IT boot camp focuses on the in-demand C# programming language. Graduates receive extensive job search support and earn an average annual starting salary of $55,000 for entry level software developer positions.

Fothergill is encouraging his middle son’s dream to design video games and tells other parents that the We Can Code IT course is fast-paced and challenging, but very possible.  “You need to be bold, have a can-do attitude and stick with it. It can be done part time in the evenings. It’s a time commitment, but I’ve been blessed to have the support from my work and my family.”

Breakthrough Schools’ partnership with We Can Code IT is their most direct effort to serve students through their families, some of them with parents working 3 or 4 jobs to make ends meet. “If we can make an impact on just one family, it will spread,” believes Grootegoed. “We will see career success but also the positive impact of parent role models.”

The program is open to any member of a Breakthrough Schools’ family who has a high school diploma, GED or equivalent, and is at least 18 years old. No previous coding or programming experience is necessary. Scholarships and financial aid for the coding bootcamp tuition is available. More information can be found at WeCanCodeIT.org and BreakthroughSchools.org

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We Can Code IT

We Can Code IT teaches people how to code, with a special emphasis on inclusion and diversity in tech. With locations in Cleveland and Columbus, We Can Code IT is bridging the gap for those underrepresented in tech by graduating 80% women and people of color. Interested students can take a free online assessment and register for full time or part time courses at WeCanCodeIT.org.

Breakthrough Schools

Breakthrough Schools is a non-profit organization supporting the highest-performing network of free, public charter schools in Cleveland, Ohio. The mission of Breakthrough Schools is to develop a growing network of distinctive school options that prepare Cleveland area students for success in life. Learn more at BreakthroughSchools.org

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