Coding startup receives $400,000 from city for capacity building

The Columbus City Council on Monday approved a $400,000 city grant to a startup computer coding school in the Middle East that focuses on preparing black workers for tech careers.

The cash injection to Color Coded Labs, which began in the spring of 2021 with investment support from venture capitalists including Mark Kvammewho served as the chief economic adviser to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, passed as an emergency “in the sense that it is immediately necessary” in order “to avoid causing disruptions in the delivery of services from the program”.

The grant, from the city’s general fund which pays for most basic services such as police and fire protection, garbage collection and others, will allow reimbursement for the company retroactive to Jan. 1, the official said. ‘arrangement.

Last year, the company asked the city for $1.5 million in development assistance for 2022, and the city agreed that the $400,000 installment approved on Monday could cover expenses incurred anytime this year, said Michael S. Brown, chief of staff to Chairman Shannon. Hardin. Another $300,000 backing from the city is under consideration and could be up for a vote in a few weeks, Brown said.

“Our expectation is this program we pay for, so we give a grant to make sure this program happens,” Brown said. “This program, without these funds, probably wouldn’t exist…unless they did some other significant fundraising efforts.”

The council voted 6-0 to approve the measure, with member Shayla Favor abstaining.

The money will be distributed by the city’s development department. City Development Manager Michael Stevens, who could not be immediately reached Monday night for information on what Columbus is getting in return.

A press release about the meeting said the grant is “to provide a multi-week coding bootcamp that equips adults with in-demand technology skills that will provide transformative and above-average earnings and career mobility.”

Brown said the agreement generally provides for municipal tax dollars to be used to subsidize student tuition and “capacity building” to allow the program to hire tutors to expedite classes.

The dispatch reported in September that the first group of bootcamp students were already studying JavaScript programming in a 19-week course costing $13,500 per student. The business was started earlier in 2021 in the historically Black King-Lincoln-Bronzeville neighborhood by Reynoldsburg resident Doug McCollough, Dublin City’s Chief Information Officer.

McCollough could not be reached Monday night. The Dispatch reported that McCollough’s co-founders were venture capitalist Kvamme, tech professionals and entrepreneurs Branden Jones, Bruce Jones and Kevin Lloyd, and investors Rev1 Ventures and JumpStart.

A laptop computer is included in the tuition, and Color Coded Labs offers a revenue-sharing option that allows students to repay the cost of the program in installments once they have secured employment. The company also helps students obtain scholarships.

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