Developing Young Talent

David Mendels on Resilient Coders

TBF News Spring 2019

David Mendels was in San Francisco in the early 1990s, when the internet was just beginning to explode. With no particular background in technology, but a master’s degree in Japanese Studies from UC Berkeley, he was hired by Macromedia—a web development company that went on to launch Flash and Dreamweaver—to set up the company’s offices in Japan and work on its international team. After Macromedia, he worked at Adobe and eventually became CEO of Brightcove, the leading software-as-a-service online video platform. While he led the company, it twice won “Best Place to Work in Boston” awards. 

David Mendels
David Mendels and his wife Leila Yassa have a Donor Advised Fund at the Boston Foundation through which they support Resilient Coders and other nonprofits, many with a social justice mission.

Mendels had just left Brightcove in 2017 when he met David Delmar Sentíes, the founder of Resilient Coders, a nonprofit that trains young people of color for high growth careers as software engineers and connects them with jobs. 

The Boston Foundation, where Mendels and his wife Leila Yassa have a Donor Advised Fund, told him about a Resilient Coders event at which Delmar Sentíes was speaking. “After David’s talk,” says Mendels, “I went up to him and said, ‘I wish I’d known about Resilient Coders before I left Brightcove! I would have worked with you to find new talent.’ "

Mendels became so inspired by Resilient Coders’ mission, which seeks to promote social justice through economic empowerment, that he not only contributed dollars to the nonprofit, but also joined the board. It’s an active board that considers strategy and governance, helps with outreach to employers and advises staff. In keeping with the goals of Project Catapult (see article on page 1), Resilient Coders works closely with employers. 

Resilient Coders has three bootcamps a year for young people of color who have a special aptitude for technology. “We don’t believe that you need a college degree to be trained in technology,” explains Mendels. “And we pay the students to attend bootcamps, because it’s unrealistic to think that a young person can survive for 14 weeks in Boston without an income.” 

Currently Resilient Coders places 45 young people in technology jobs every year with the goal of reaching 1,000 in 10 years. Bootcamp alumni will no doubt help them to reach that goal as more and more of them become hiring managers at their places of work. Already, a Resilient Coders graduate has hired someone just out of boot camp. With that kind of networking and help, Mendels believes, Resilient Coders can have a transformative impact on the lives of young people and help to strengthen an industry that is hungry for talent.