The Silicon Review
“Our motive is to truly even the playing field for lower-income and other underrepresented individuals and provide them with a high-level technology education that would create generational wealth.”
CODEIT Institute of Technology (CIT) is an award-winning software training provider that aims to challenge the status quo in the IT industry by training and developing those least likely to be involved at the highest level of technology. The institute provides an alternative to college and the benefits of graduating from a Nationally Recognized U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship program in addition to obtaining globally recognized and highly sought-after AWS Certifications.
CODEIT Institute of Technology was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Newark, New Jersey.
Da’shone Hughey, CEO of CIT, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review on how he and his organization are increasing access to software engineering education for low-income, unemployed, underemployed, and other underrepresented individuals.
Q. What was the motivation behind starting the CODEIT Institute of Technology? How has the journey been for you as the CEO of this esteemed institution?
The original motive behind CIT is to truly even the playing field for lower-income and other underrepresented individuals and provide them with a high-level technology education that would create generational wealth. We know that other schools target a similar market, but their training will, in most cases, keep you at a low level. They are not learning software engineering or blockchain technologies. Their focus is typically on the CompTIA A+.
The journey has been an experience that we are very proud of. We started in a small room in the middle of a housing project in Hoboken, NJ, and progressed to a Google-like atmosphere in Newark, NJ. We now have operations in East Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania, and we just created a Research and Development lab that focuses on Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning technologies. We are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish. Its’ been painstaking at the time, but it’s something that we are excited to be part of.
Q. What is the role of the Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program? How does it help students to improve their skillsets?
The Department of Labor Apprenticeship partnership ensures that CIT meets and adheres to a certain standard in its training, but more importantly, it provides our students with an alternative to college. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, graduates receive a diploma for the U.S. Department of Labor indicating that they have graduated and met the standards of the U.S. government. That’s a huge feather in our students’ caps. They receive a diploma without paying the high cost of college education, leaving them with perpetual debt.
Q. What is CIT’s mission and vision statement?
The mission of CIT is to train and develop those least likely to be involved at the highest level of technology, low-income, unemployed, underemployed, woman, and other underrepresented individuals, with the skills sets and knowledge to remove them from a cycle of poverty. We enable them to participate in a technology-driven workforce and become the world’s future innovators while creating generational for themselves and their families.
Q. How important is technology to what you do and deliver as an organization? Who are your tech partners?
CIT is a U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship program, AWS Academy, Grow with Google partner, and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools candidate. All the partnerships ensure that we immediately deliver education and experience that a student can use for meaningful and gainful employment.
Q. How do you promote diversity among students? What are the values that are used to foster a positive culture?
Initially, our student body was comprised of low-income or unemployed individuals. Later on, a large number of college graduates who, after incurring huge debts and being unable to find meaningful employment, enrolled in our programs, which in turn created a very diverse student body. It indeed made our philosophy even more appropriate. We have a straightforward philosophy – You can measure a person’s IQ, but you can’t measure the size of their heart. How bad do you want to win? That philosophy became even more appropriate because we now have a mixture of skill sets in our programs, all of which must compete. Interestingly, we have found that the students without college degrees are far better than those with college degrees.
Q. What opportunities do you give teachers to develop themselves professionally (e.g., workshops, seminars, conferences, advanced studies, etc.)?
All our instructors are required to be certified in the disciplines that we teach, so we ensure that they get all the necessary training they need. We encourage our instructors to explore and recommend other technologies for our programs and students. We added our blockchain training after an instructor recommended it and completed the necessary training to implement it in our programs. We also expect our instructors to recommend eliminating technologies that are no longer relevant. At all times, we want to ensure that we offer up-to-date and relevant technologies.
Q. How was your experience working through the pandemic? Could you tell us about it?
The pandemic increased our training and allowed us to expand. Prior to the pandemic, all classes were held in person. I was in East Africa exploring CIT’s options in expanding in Uganda during the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, we immediately brought in video conferencing format, which allowed us to expand its offerings in East Africa. And now video conferencing has become a standard part of our training, which we believe will allow us to expand to other countries soon.
Q. What does the road ahead look like for the CIT? Do you have anything new coming up?
We recently launched a new research and development lab, The Blockchain Lab, popularly referred to as The Block, which will focus on training the next generation of professionals in the blockchain industry, emphasizing students from underprivileged communities.
The Block has already created its Ethereum platform with Smart Contracts for NFTs. The lab’s first NFTs are affectionately called the King Collection and feature such notables as Mayor Ras Baraka, Senator Corey Booker, Congressman Donald Payne, and CIT founder Da’shone amongst others. It is our intent to compete with Open Sea, Rare, and other companies in the NFT sphere.
The Visionary Leader Upfront
Da’shone Hughey is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CODEIT Institute of Technology (CIT) and the Blockchain Lab. Da’shone has a Postgraduate Certificate in Education Law from the Shepard Broad College of Law, a Master’s Degree in Education, M.Ed., and a PMI Certification in Project Management. In addition, Mr. Hughey completed his studies in Blockchain Technologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School Management and has studied abroad at Hebrew University. He was also inducted into Marquis Who’s Who in America.