Reinvestment Fund financing is helping Base Camp Coding Academy develop Project Everest, a hub for workforce development programs for youth in rural northern Mississippi.
Base Camp Coding Academy (BCCA) is a non-profit, vocational education and technology training program that teaches youth to be software developers in 12 months. Founded in 2015 by corporate leaders living in the region, in partnership with Northern Mississippi Community College (NMCC), the program was piloted to test a method of bringing technology training to rural communities. BCCA provides scholarships to all students including meals and commuting assistance and the pilot has graduated 32 software developers. The program has an over 90% employment rate for its graduates.
BCCA is based in Water Valley, the largest town in Yalobusha County in northern Mississippi, which has endured a series of economic blows over the past 70 years. Close to 23% of its population lives below the poverty line, compared to the Mississippi average of 17%. The largest demographic living in poverty in this community are women between the ages of 18-24. This is the age that is most immediately impacted by limited access to STEM education opportunities during high school, and higher education or training opportunities immediately following high school.
The lack of access to educational opportunities has also created a workforce shortage for industries across Mississippi. With an estimated 1,200 open technology positions in the state, and other skilled labor shortages in manufacturing and service industries in the north half of the state, there is a significant demand for all levels of newly trained employees. BCCA and NMCC have been working with CoreLogic, C-Spire, Renasant Bank, FedEx, MorganWhite Insurance Group, and other corporations to find alternative training systems to help connect rural populations in Mississippi with these career opportunities.
Project Everest, Mississippi’s first rural education and innovation hub, is designed to build on and expand the successes of the BCCA pilot. During the pilot phase, BCCA was only able to accept 50% of the nominated students due to limited space.
The new facility will be housed in a remediated, large historic, blighted property that occupies a central location in the community, Everest will include:
- BCCA, scaled to graduate 25 software developers annually, compared to the average of 10 during the pilot period.
- A satellite campus for NMCC, offering GED programs, technical and trade courses, and dual enrollment opportunities for the local high school.
- Space to house business partners and sponsors of BCCA and NMCC who currently offer financial support, as well as mentorship and integration of their staff with BCCA and NMCC students.
Reinvestment Fund is providing a loan to bridge committed corporate donations and federal grants to BCCA. The bridge loan is funding a portion of BCCA’s leverage loan for this New Markets Tax Credit and Historic Tax Credits transaction. Raza Development Fund is proving the NMTC allocation for this $9.08 million project. US Bank is the NMTC investor and Enhanced Community Development is the Histroic Tax Credit investor.