CEO Field Visit to Non-Profit Startup in Boston – Convergence of two different business models for Startups

For my Boston CEO field trip outing I met with Helen Rosenfeld who leads strategic partnerships at Resilient Coders, a Boston based non-profit startup providing a FREE (6 to 7 weeks) web development bootcamp and job placement assistance for small cohorts of “at risk” young adults from a community traditionally underrepresented in the tech industry.

Although this field visit was not my first choice, the experience of being at their office and learning from Helen has greatly exceeded my expectations. By the end of the visit, I’ve learned not only about the virtuous mission of this young non-profit and their focus to empower “at risk” young adults in Boston, but also about the many challenges and their impressive successes.

The field experience itself was highly uplifting, inspiring, and educational. Interestingly enough, Resilient Coders’ office is located right next to the Startup Institute, a for-profit coding bootcamp focused on disrupting traditional education by helping highly-motivated career changers build valuable technical, teamwork, and networking skills in just 12 weeks of intensive training and helping their graduates join innovative startups.

On the 14th floor of 50 Milk Street in Boston, two different business models and philosophies converge. Both companies empower people by helping them develop new sets of skills in a short amount of time, with the ultimate goal to help their graduates find jobs that can turn into meaningful careers. What sets Resilient Coders apart from Startup Institute, is they actively help young adults at risk of “falling off a societal cliff”.

The non-profit initiative of Resilient Institute aims to bring much needed balance to the tech field in particular, and society as a whole. The best part is that they are not doing a la “The Big Government” style by dishing out welfare checks under the guise of compassion (and also, arguably, in exchange for “D” votes), but rather they teach young adults “How to fish” for themselves, and thus empowering them to become self-reliant and self-sufficient members within their own community and larger society.

As a person who experienced a rather turbulent childhood and as someone who had to learn to fend for oneself, I can truly appreciate the impact and the virtue of this organization. Within the ethical framework of this class, I can see utilitarianism – creating the greatest good for the society, virtue ethics – doing something virtuous, humane, and good based on one’s beliefs, and a touch of libertarian in a sense that personal empowerment can help diminish the role of government and create society where people feel empowered and dignified by being able to catch their own fish, being more self-sufficient, and in charge of one’s own destiny.

I absolutely believe in “safety nets” and there is surely an important role the government can play, but perpetual safety nets cast under the guise of compassion (and often in exchange for perpetual “D” votes), can also create a destructive cycle of dependency, helplessness, and unhappiness.

I believe that a strong community can play an even larger, more virtuous, and utilitarian role than the government by paving the path to empowerment through learning new sets of skills that can give freedom to chart one’s own destiny, join innovative startups, or even start one by yourself or with the help of other, ambitious “status quo disruptors”. Resilient Coders is a living proof of that vision.

Author: Aleksandr Biyevetskiy

Global SEO consultant and trusted adviser to Kaspersky Lab, Fortune 1000 Companies, and numerous Startups. Formerly, an SEO Lead at a top-rated national SEO agency Catalyst Digital. The agency was rated as the best organic search partner for enterprises by Forester Research during my tenure with the company. Favorite Tools of the Trade: SEMRush, MOZ, Botify, AHREFs, Majestic, DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, Google Analytics, Web Trends, Omniture, ClickTale, BrightEdge, Conductor, HubSpot.

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