2U, Netflix partner to bring tuition-free boot camps to HBCU

Dive Brief: 

  • 2U is teaming up with Netflix to launch three tuition-free technology boot camps for students and recent alumni of Norfolk State University, a historically Black institution in Virginia. 

  • Up to 130 people will be able to enroll in the 16-week, fully online programs, which begin in January. They will also receive one-on-one mentorships with Netflix employees and career advising from 2U. 

  • Colleges have been striking more deals than usual this year to add boot camps to their offerings, and student interest in them appears to be growing amid the pandemic. 

Dive Insight: 

Netflix bills the new partnership as a way to improve Black representation in the tech industry. Several major tech companies, including Google and Apple, have made little progress over the last few years in adding Black and Latinx workers to their ranks. 

The streaming giant is fully funding the program. Students will be eligible for scholarships from Netflix to cover the cost of attendance and will receive course credit for completing the boot camp.

The program will be run as a pilot, with the aim of expanding it to other universities, according to a 2U representative. 

“The goal for students is to complete the course to gain the skills that they will need to get an internship or to get full-time offers at any tech company, not just Netflix,” said Norfolk State President Javaune Adams-Gaston. “We’re focusing on student success and readiness for the entire industry.” 

While this is not 2U’s first partnership with a noneducation company, it is the first with an HBCU.

The move also grows 2U’s footprint in the boot camp sector, and it follows its acquisition of Trilogy Education Services, a boot camp provider, last year. 

The pandemic forced 2U to move its in-person boot camps online, a move that has led to “improvements in student engagement and satisfaction levels,” Chip Paucek, 2U’s CEO and co-founder, told analysts in July. 

The company also recently launched several other boot camps with schools, including Emerson College and Ohio State University. 

These types of deals have grown more popular this year, according to a recent report from HolonIQ, an education market research firm. During the first six months of 2020, universities struck 47 deals with companies to add boot camps to their offerings, it found, compared to just 13 in all of 2019. 

Pandemic-related job losses and insecurity may be heightening interest in these types of programs, The Washington Post reported. Course Report, a website that links students to boot camps, told the publication that enrollment in those programs is on track to grow by around 40% this year. Last year, boot camps enrolled around 23,000 students.

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