Originally published in Denver Business Journal – July 30, 2020
Galvanize, a Denver-based technology education program, expects 2020 to be a growth year, in part because of the opportunity to help upskill students who have seen their jobs impacted because of Covid-19.
To increase accessibility to its data science and software engineering programs, Galvanize is letting students pay tuition through income share agreements. With an ISA, a student pays a small upfront fee and then agrees to pay a percentage of their income back to the boot camp once they secure a job.
“In our opinion it’s a compelling way for people to reskill without taking much risk,” CEO Harsh Patel told Denver Business Journal. “It’s like a student loan, but if you don’t have a job you don’t to pay it.”
For nine months before Covid-19, Galvanize offered an ISA as a pilot program. The pilot was successful, and when Covid-19 came and job losses started skyrocketing, Galvanize decided to make its ISA widely available to students in June.
Under the terms of Galvanize’s new ISA program, students pay a $2,000 deposit and can defer tuition until they secure a job with a $60,000 annual salary. How much they pay for the program is a percentage of their salary but no student will pay more than $25,000. The upfront cost of the entire program is $18,000.
Galvanize also started offering its online data science program as a part-option. Previously, it was only available full time. Students can finish the program in less than a year while working for taking care of other obligations. Galvanize’s software engineering program is also available online and part-time. The boot camp has had online classes since 2014.
“Data science is secure, recession-proof and a high-paying job,” Patel said.
He said that now is a great time to upskill because not only is technology a fulfilling career, but many of these jobs are still in demand.
“These jobs didn’t go away because of Covid-19, they went remote,” he said. “Places are still hiring for data scientists and software engineers.”
In fact, a new report from Dice shows thar Denver tech job postings grew by 36% from May to June.
But Covid-19 has impacted Galvanize. The organization offered in-person classes at its locations, and now those locations are sitting empty for the most part.
“We’re still paying rent on those, that’s unfortunate,”Patel said. “But we’re fortunate to have a program that has worked for a long time and we’re able to weather the storm.”
In January, Galvanize was acquired by the for-profit education company K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN) for $165 million.
“Having the stability of being under the larger umbrella of a publicly traded company has allowed us to batten down the hatches and keep focusing on our students and clients,” Patel said.
To help with the student experience, Galvanize is working to maintain the experience of in-person classes online.
“When someone says they learn better in person, we’ve experienced it’s because they need community and accountability,” Patel said.
Because Galvanize has been online for six years, the program has succeeded in building relationships in a virtual format. (So much so, Patel said, that two students who met in an online class ended up getting married and invited their classmates.)
Galvanize is also deliberate in creating an atmosphere of accountability. The expectation is that students are logged into Zoom at 9 a.m. with their cameras on.
“If you don’t, you get an email at 9:01 am asking if you’re OK, what can we do,” Patel said. “There must be something wrong because the culture is you show up at 9 a.m.”
Patel said he believes the combination of that culture is the increased accessibility will lead more people to Galvanize.
“With or without Covid-19 and with or without the job losses we’re seeing, this type of program is helpful for people,” he said. “We want to help folks affected by Covid-19 right now. There are a lot of folks we’re able to help, now without them having to have money for tuition up front.”