Overheard

ASU+GSV Summit 2021: Reuben Ogbonna on a tech opportunity that’s an alternative to college

Leaders in education and tech leaders share innovative ideas about what's to come
By Laura Aka
August 10, 2021

Brooklyn-based Marcy Lab School describes itself as an alternative to college. “In one year, you will unlock the skills, the habits, and the network you need to launch a financially-rewarding, purpose-driven career in tech.”

As someone who worked in public school education, Reuben Ogbonna, co-founder and executive director, explains the motivation behind creating the Marcy Lab School.

“I saw students every year who would go off to college with big dreams and often end up with debt and no degree to show for it. Or debt, and underemployed or unemployed. We thought there has to be another postsecondary pathway for hardworking, motivated students who face financial barriers or those who are least likely to be served really, really well by traditional higher education.”

Ogbonna says the program goes beyond learning tech skills, but also acknowledges students’ life experiences.

He proudly shares a story about a recent graduate whose family arrived in the U.S. from Jamaica. This student’s goal was to land a great job that would allow him to take care of his family. During the pandemic, he interned at a top tech company alongside other interns from prestigious colleges. And was offered a position that pays him $190,000 annually, as well as company stock.

Click here to learn more about Marcy Lab School.

WorkingNation—a collaborating partner of the ASU+GSV Summit—sat down with Ogbonna in San Diego as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard social media series.

Hear from more innovators in education and tech in the public, private, and nonprofit spheres attending the ASU+GSV Summit 2021 here.

Follow the conversation on social media: #asugsvsummit #workingnationoverheard