2015 Results Newsletter
From Cleaner to Hackathon Champ
A tech program is changing lives in Queens
By JOHN GOMEZ
|NEW YORK COMMUNITY TRUST SUPPORT helped Coalition for Queens team up with tech companies to start Access Code in 2014. The program is committed to those who need it most: At least half the students are women; many are underrepresented minorities or immigrants. The average participant entering Access Code earns $24,000 per year, and those who complete the full program report significantly higher pay. Photo by Ari Mintz for The Trust
My family came to New York from Colombia when I was 8. I did well in school, but had to help support my parents and siblings, so we cleaned offices at night.
I dropped out of City College, joining my big brother and my dad in construction work by day while continuing the night work.
My solace came when I studied math, art, and physics in free time. I lived on hope. Then I came across a program run by Coalition for Queens, which helps minorities and women enter the tech field.
I got in! I’ll always be glad that happened. I’ve been studying at Access Code, an intensive, nine-month tech career program. It has given me skills and opportunities that completely changed my life.
Two nights a week and every weekend, I’m at the Coalition for Queens, learning to build computer applications, and how to start my own company.
I’ve learned the latest in coding from programmers. I’ve visited the Google and Microsoft offices. My team won first place in Access Code’s first hackathon to create a mobile application for New York’s needs. Our app allows cellphone messages to be sent in an emergency—without a cellphone carrier. We developed it for low-income families.
After the program ends, I think I’ll find a great job. I’ve dreamed of opening my own business and now, thanks to The New York Community Trust, it’s likely.
-- John Gomez, 25, lives in Woodside, Queens.