As the world changes, particularly regarding income and wealth, traditional school curriculums are a significant discussion point. Many argue whether or not more practical and innovative approaches to K-12 curriculums are necessary to prepare students for the future of work.
Since many public schools are riddled with bureaucracy from governmental and quasi-government stakeholders, change can be slow and sometimes tedious. However, some schools, mainly in the charter and private spaces, are proactively moving toward more innovative approaches that center equity and prepare their students for the future they desire.
The Marcy Lab School in Brooklyn, NY, is an example of one of these approaches, creating an alternative path for students interested in tech.
“The story that’s not often told is what happens when a young person gets to college, and what we learned was that college wasn’t serving our students,” Maya Bhattacharjee-Marcantonio, co-founder of The Marcy Lab School, said to CNBC.
This type of innovative programming is at the core of what The Marcy Lab School is built on. Additionally, co-founder Reuben Ogbonna believes their out-of-the-box approach sets them apart and empowers their students.
“High-quality instruction and emphasis on community identity development and leadership development is what makes Marcy special,” Ogbonna explained.
The career readiness program began in 2019 with nine students. The current cohort now includes 67 participants in the one-year immersion with software programming, coding, web development, and networking as part of the curriculum.
According to the school’s website, the program is free.
“Our graduates are full time engineers now. They make over $100,000 per year building applications for some of the world’s greatest companies,” its website reads.
While the school has managed to help students become six-figure earners, the program aims to leverage the skills and tools provided to place each graduate in roles earning at least $70,000.
With the support of foundations such as Tiger Global Impact Ventures and Charles Hayden Foundation, as well as many companies, including JP Morgan Chase and Squarespace, The Marcy Lab School is able to connect graduates with possible job opportunities.
“Spending years with our students has led [these companies] to see them as not only students who have a ton of potential but can be true hiring pipelines for their organizations,” Ogbonna said.
The one-year program is open to any student between the ages of 18-24 who has acquired a high school diploma. Those enrolled are expected to use their coursework as an alternative to traditional college education, allowing them to leverage the evolving trend of skills-based hiring from employers.
While The Marcy Lab School is still working on expanding and scaling, the program has an 80% completion rate and looks to serve thousands of New York students and beyond in the future.
“We think The Marcy Lab School can scale to thousands of students here in New York City and potentially have impacts across the country,” Ogbonna noted.