2022 Catalysts Interview – Knight Moves
Linc Kroeger has spent his entire career in the tech industry, so he’s seen his fair share of its goods and bads. A few years ago, he wanted to do his part to advance the field and created Knight Moves – an Iowa-based organization with the mission of addressing strategic advancement for social equity in urban and rural America.
The Technology Association of Iowa connected with Linc to learn more.
Could you give us a brief overview of what Knight Moves does?
Knight Moves operates with the primary social benefiting purpose of helping urban underserved, Native American and rural communities achieve long-term sustainable economic success, with special emphasis on at-risk youth. Knight Moves provides extensive and robust technology skills training and then helps secure jobs for graduates – without the burden of educational debt. This creates technological ecosystems in areas where economic despair has persisted.
The Knight Moves training program is an intensive, hands-on model that serves as a bridge between education and employment. Knight Moves participants team up with the world’s leaders in technology and innovation to solve and build solutions in a real world/real pressure environment. The students tackle real-life problems like poverty, human trafficking, homelessness, and issues impacting youth, seniors and people with disabilities. Students learn to build and apply technological solutions to move society forward. Students create real change with the skills they learn, increasing their value for companies looking to hire program graduates. Throughout the program, students are also coached on their leadership, emotional intelligence, collaboration and problem-solving skills.
Graduates rival four-year computer science degree graduates due to Knight Moves modern in-depth software craftsmanship training, modern software development techniques and domain training, and extensive hands-on experience as members of agile commercial product development teams creating real world technology solutions. Students work as team members of commercial product development teams while being led by experienced technologists.
Can you give us an example of your current efforts?
Right now, we’re working with the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa.
You know, the story of most rural communities and Native American communities is students have to go through a prerequisite program before they come to our program. So, we partner with community colleges, because in Iowa and in most states, community college dual enrollment courses are free to the students.
But the problem is that some community colleges don’t offer our prerequisite software development courses. And if they do, they likely can’t even get an instructor.
We actually have a program now where we can provide the prerequisites ourselves if the local community college can’t. So that’s what we’re doing next spring with the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. They have no way to take a software development course because their high school teachers can’t teach it, and their community college doesn’t offer it. So, we’re actually providing it for them at their settlement high school. And then the idea is they can go through our prerequisites and then go through our formal training.
Is there one particular outcome of your work you’d like to highlight?
We speak to a lot of high school students, and when we go in, they have no interest in a tech related career.
By the time we’re done, we’ll get 30 to 40 percent of the high school students saying ‘I had no idea I was interested in a career in tech and what’s my next step.’
We talked to all the 8th through 11th graders of the Sac and Fox tribe, and 58% of the students we talked to said they were interested in taking that first step and signing up for a software development course. 48% of them were female, which is off the charts. That’s a super high response. STEM organizations struggle to get women into software development courses.
It appears that overall, Knight Moves’ work is embedded in DEI. Could you tell us more about that?
Our social mission at Knight Moves involves bringing advanced education and training to urban underserved, Native American and rural communities and connecting them with employers who support inclusion. We make this option available without sacrifice to them because we believe no one should have to abandon any aspect of their community or culture in order to pursue career opportunities and prospects for a better life. By investing in these individuals, we invest in their communities, and in doing so, we invest in society.
Taking advanced education and training to urban underserved, Native American and rural communities allows the individuals within them to maintain their culture in order to keep their youth local and give the opportunities they seek without forcing them to leave their families, communities and heritage behind. By receiving this advanced education and connections to jobs, they’re able to stay in their community, have a rewarding career and contribute toward their community’s economic prosperity.