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Coding School Founded By African Americans Thrives

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Mike McGee

Mike McGee

CHICAGO (CBS) — The creators of huge tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox are pushing a You Tube video promoting the importance of teaching students how to code computers.

One of the few coding schools in the country is based here in Chicago. Its founders don’t look like your typical entrepreneurs in the world of technology.

Dorothy Tucker reports on two young African-Americans, who are destined become future black history leaders.

In coding class, people learn how to build websites and apps. In the past two years, more than 500 people from 30 states and 15 countries have traveled to Chicago to take classes at a school started by two young African-American men.

“Revenue for the past year is around $1 million to $2 million,” said co-founder Mike McGee.

At just 24, McGee and his partner, Neil Stern, graduates of Northwestern, are the co-founders of Starter League. According to Research by CB Insights, they’re rare–fewer than 1 percent of tech start-ups are founded by African-Americans.

McGee was asked whether he realizes how significant it is for an African-American to play such a key role in the tech start-up world.

“Honestly, no, because I’m just too busy focusing on going forward,” he said.

Next summer, Starter league will introduce coding to 16 Chicago Public School teachers, who will then offer classes to their students.

For the last year, they’ve been mentoring students at Chicago Tech Academy, a charter school.

“They’re not making music videos, they’re not playing sports,” said Matt Hancock, executive director of Chicago Tech Academy. “We’ve got many African-American role models in those fields.

“But to see it happen in technology is really important for our young people, who I hope will follow in their foot steps.”

McGee says it goes beyond having a successful business.

“We really feel that if you give someone the opportunity and inspire them and show that there are people who look like them that are doing this, then they can do this too,” McGee said.

Coding classes at the Starter League school cost $8,000 for a three-month course.

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