Fast Company Honors Capital One Coders As Innovation Beacon

Fast Company honors the Capital One Coders for providing innovative learning opportunities to public schools and nonprofits


School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic introduced unpredictability into the classroom by affecting learning and impacting student achievement. In the absence of in-person instruction, it became evident that millions of students lacked computers or high-speed internet at home. School districts were ill-equipped to provide the same online education to every student. Some students couldn’t even log on at all. 

A Brookings Institution study on fall 2020 student enrollment found that the virus may have challenged some aspects of academic achievement, with lower academic growth in mathematics. In partnership with public schools and other youth-serving nonprofits, Capital One responded to the crisis by adapting the Capital One Coders program–which inspires future generations by educating, mentoring and empowering students to recognize their potential as technologists–to support and supplement the educational needs of children, even in a virtual setting. Our volunteers came together to develop modules that inspire students with opportunities to explore coding alongside our technologists and cultivate a greater interest in computer science. 

Our Coders associate volunteers responded quickly. From creating new curriculum modules to supporting digital access in our communities, hundreds of volunteers developed summer and fall programming for students. In 2020, we achieved these milestones:

  • 4,783 students spent 24,047 hours with Capital One Technologists
  • 1,369 volunteers logged 22,456 hours
  • Coders ran 131 programs across 44 nonprofit partners and schools

As our technology associates continue to inspire students through virtual learning this year, we’re honored that our Coders program was the reason why Capital One earned the Number 3 spot on the 2021 Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. 

The Coders program is part of our broader mission to change banking for good, which we are propelling forward through the Capital One Impact Initiative. This work aims to advance socioeconomic mobility by advocating for an inclusive society, building thriving communities and creating financial tools that enrich lives. It is fueled by a $200 million multi-year commitment in community grants to catalyze economic growth in low- and moderate-income communities and close gaps in equity and opportunity. 

For the Fairfax County Public School system, Capital One provided sustained innovative learning opportunities from start to finish by offering programs to students who may not otherwise have access to computer science education. 

“Capital One even handles the logistics!” That’s what Principal Margaret Barnes from Holmes Middle School in Fairfax County, Virginia shared when asked about the support Capital One provides her staff members, teachers and students.  

“A significant challenge to any partnership for a school team includes the necessary time to plan before execution,” Barnes explained. “Following strategic student selections, making launch and other date decisions, and providing them the right point-of-contact, the Capital One Coders program nearly runs itself. With many logistical burdens eliminated, students and Capital One technologists are strategically paired in super effective small groups where a technologist needs only support two or three students which affords learners more individual instruction.”  

Barnes added, “Even during this global pandemic, with virtual learning in place, Capital One Coders delivered—literally—distributing internet connectivity devices where needed and providing volunteers to give their time and talents to help our students with workplace relevant computer science skills.”

“We’re always evolving the Coders program to find innovative ways to educate, mentor and empower students,” says Jay Sanne, Managing Vice President of Technology at Capital One. “Seeing the continued success of the Coders program expanding across the country to thousands more students each year is incredible motivation. We have a huge opportunity with virtual programs and I continue to be driven by our Coders vision of students succeeding in the digital age.” 

To learn more about the Coders program, click here

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