Tech job placement nonprofit LaunchCode expands to Miami with $1.25 million from Knight Foundation

Apprenticeship program will expand opportunities and connect talent with high-impact companies

MIAMI (Dec. 17, 2014)—LaunchCode, which expands economic opportunity through apprenticeships and job placements in the technology sector, will open in Miami in 2015. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $1.25 million to support LaunchCode’s South Florida expansion.

Jim McKelvey, co-founder of mobile payment company Square, established LaunchCode in St. Louis in 2013. Since then, the nonprofit has partnered with a broad array of educators to provide people who have basic skills with the technical expertise and professional support they need to be competitive in the workforce. Once they are prepared, LaunchCode ensures that these employees can get jobs, connecting them with startups and established companies alike. In its first year, 90 percent of LaunchCode’s 130 placements led to full-time positions after only a few months.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one million U.S. programming jobs will go unfilled by 2020. LaunchCode aims to close this tech talent gap in South Florida and create opportunities for motivated candidates from nontraditional backgrounds. The program focuses on breaking down barriers to economic opportunity by offering apprenticeships to people who may not have the education or experience to otherwise pursue jobs in the technology field. At the same time, it helps a growing number of companies seeking specialized tech talent.

“If you dream about working in tech, but you don’t have the traditional experience, LaunchCode is absolutely the best path.” said McKelvey. “In just one year, LaunchCode’s pilot program in St. Louis has placed over a hundred people in jobs with companies ranging from MasterCard and Enterprise to smaller start-ups and local businesses. Nearly half of the people LaunchCode placed were unemployed prior to joining the program, and 42 percent do not have a college degree.”

“While South Florida continues to grow as a dynamic hub for tech innovation, there are some important talent gaps to fill,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami. “LaunchCode aims to address this challenge through a unique model that will open new economic opportunities for people across our diverse community, while ensuring that entrepreneurs and businesses have access to the talent they need to succeed.”

For its South Florida expansion, LaunchCode is partnering with several other respected regional institutions in addition to Knight, including the television network Fusion and República, a leading advertising and digital agency. 

“Fusion is dedicated to championing communities that foster creativity and innovation,” said Isaac Lee, Fusion’s CEO. “We are thrilled to be an early supporter of LaunchCode in South Florida — a dynamic program that delivers results and will ultimately help Fusion as we expand in the years to come.”

“LaunchCode is a unique organization that’s going to have a tremendous impact on South Florida’s tech labor market. República is proud to be one of LaunchCode’s very first committed companies,” said Jorge A. Plasencia, CEO of República.

The LaunchCode team welcomes Mariana Rego, who will spearhead LaunchCode’s Miami expansion. Rego is co-founder of Design Thinking Miami, a non-profit that hosts social and educational events to foster design thinking, and a contributing writer for Hackers of Miami, a blog that covers Miami’s tech scene. Rego will lead the first phase of the organization’s development, forming partnerships with Miami-area companies.

Support for LaunchCode is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to build Miami’s entrepreneurial community, as a way to attract and keep talented workers and expand economic opportunity. Over the past two years Knight has made more than 90 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida. 

Companies and potential applicants looking to participate in LaunchCode can learn more at or email [email protected]

Placements will begin in early 2015, following the company partnership building phase.


About LaunchCode

LaunchCode is a St. Louis based non-profit paving new pathways to economic opportunity and upward mobility through apprenticeships and job placement in technology. Founded in 2013, LaunchCode partners with over 150 companies in St. Louis region to offer paid apprenticeships and job placement for people aspiring to work in technology. For more information, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, please visit


Mariana Rego, Miami Expansion Coordinator, LaunchCode, 305-915-0498, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]