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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Ada Developers Academy: Diversifying tech in Atlanta

By Alexandra Holien, interim CEO

Ada Developers Academy is out to change the face of tech. 

The tech industry is the wealth engine of our time, but that wealth is not spread evenly. Women, especially Black and brown women, are severely underrepresented in tech jobs and leadership. As tech continues to grow in places like Atlanta, we have an opportunity to shift who holds wealth and power in this country. 

Ada’s one-year, tuition-free coding training program fast-tracks women and gender-expansive* folks into secure, high-earning careers in tech. Through six months in the classroom and six months in an industry internship, Ada students build the skills, experience and community support they need to become professional software developers. Our students are 72% people of color, 40% racial minorities underrepresented in tech (Black, Latine, Indigenous, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander), and 34% LGBTQIA+. The majority (85%) are low-income when they enter the program. 

For many students, tuition-free is not enough. To make sure students can persist through Ada’s intensive program, we offer financial assistance and childcare subsidies during the instruction period, laptops and access to free therapy for a year. Furthermore, Ada works to transform the culture of the tech industry from within. We train every company partner hosting an Ada intern on equity, inclusion, and fostering healthy work environments. 

We know our model works – we typically see 98% of students successfully complete the program, and 94% are hired into full-time software developer jobs within six months of graduation. On average, students come to Ada from jobs earning under $40,000 per year, and end up tripling their salary in their first full-time software developer role. 

After nearly 10 years of success in Seattle, Ada began expanding operations nationally, starting with Atlanta in 2021. Atlanta has one of the highest tech growth rates in the US – software developer jobs are projected to grow 26% over the next decade. 

“Our aim in expanding to diverse cities that are beginning to experience tech industry growth is to ensure that the wealth generated by the industry benefits the whole community and not just a select few,” says Ada CEO Lauren Sato. “Coming from Seattle, we have seen how booming tech can push communities out of their city, and we hope to see Atlanta become the first market to grow tech from within.” 

We were honored to receive funding from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta as part of their work to reduce racial income and wealth gaps through career and workforce development, and increase opportunities for economic mobility, especially among Asian, Black, and Latine communities. 

Since our founding in 2013, Ada has served over 1,000 participants and generated $50M in new salaries for women and gender-expansive folks in the tech economy, narrowing gender and racial equity gaps in one of our most economically prosperous and influential sectors. 

Learn more at www.adadevelopersacademy.org. Follow Ada on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or Facebook

*Ada uses a national reference for the term “gender-expansive” (also sometimes called non-binary, non-conforming or genderqueer) and Transgender provided by GLAAD: https://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender 


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