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Grammy winner Ne-Yo backs a tuition-free school that makes tech accessible to everyone

Nick Rose

Learn to code without accumulating thousands of dollars in student debt. It may sound too good to be true, but that’s what drew Grammy award winning artist, Ne-Yo to invest in the Holberton School. Ne-Yo, known for his songs “So Sick” and “Miss Independent,” says he’s motivated to address the lack of diversity across the tech industry in America.

“I got involved because technology is changing the world by the second and it needs to be all inclusive. I love what they were talking about doing, I love the fact that there’s no upfront tuition so that debt hanging overhead isn’t there anymore,” Ne-Yo told Yahoo Finance. “I just love the fact that this is a company which is making it possible for everybody to gain this knowledge.”

Holberton promises to teach its students to become full-stack software engineers after just two years, at zero cost upfront. But instead of paying a traditional tuition, alumni are required to fork over 17% of their gross earnings over 3.5 years after graduation. Sylvain Kalache, one of the co-founders of the Holberton School, says its a small price to pay for what he claims is a world-class education.

“We’re providing Ivy League level education where the starting salary for our U.S. students is on par with Ivy League institutions... but instead of nurturing 1% of the students, we are serving the 99%,” Kalache says. “These students may not be able to access these great institutions because maybe they’re not in the financial situation to do so, or maybe they were not good at school, so a lot of our students were considered as failures in the regular education system... our students come from all walks of life.”

Group of Graduates during commencement. Concept education congratulation in University. Graduation Ceremony ,Congratulated the graduates in University during commencement.

Holberton graduates have scored jobs at some of the top firms in Silicon Valley. And as the school continues to expand both in the United States and internationally, Ne-Yo’s dream of bringing diversity to the tech sector could soon become a reality.

“I try to not so much pay attention to what other people are doing just because I want to make sure that I am on the right path and doing the right thing. So it wasn’t so much of me watching somebody else’s moves and trying to copy or even be inspired by. This is about me trying to find a way to give back... diversifying the space was one of the most important elements of it for me.”

Nick Rose is a producer for Yahoo Finance.

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