now happening at c spire

Base Camp Coding Academy Scores Perfect Mark as Entire Inaugural Graduating Class Secures Information Technology Job Offers from Regional Employers


Non-profit also receives major boost for future with new round of sponsorships

Water Valley, Miss. (May 9, 2017) – Base Camp Coding Academy (BCCA) has successfully placed all 11 members of its inaugural graduating class in information technology-related jobs.

The non-profit charity, which provides under-advantaged youth with fast-paced, focused vocational training in computer programming to support the technology needs of local and regional employers, announced today that its entire 2017 graduating class received job offers.

FedEx Services has hired six of the graduating students as IT support associates at the FedEx World Technology Center in Collierville, Tenn. Students will have the opportunity to transition into full-time roles at the end of the summer. The positions are in software and hardware engineering.

FedEx recently launched the Pathfinder Program, designed to seek out top talent for hire from non-traditional educational paths, and Base Camp Coding Academy was a perfect match.

“The caliber of the education, which simulates a traditional 40 hour work week, coupled with deep hands-on coding education and soft-skill development, created graduates with excellent potential to thrive at FedEx,” said Bob Bortz, director of Projects & Talent Development at FedEx.

C Spire, a Ridgeland, Miss.-based telecommunications and technology company, hired four Base Camp graduates in full-time, paid summer internships with the potential to convert into full-time permanent jobs at the end of the internship period.

Base Camp students had a chance to visit C Spire earlier this spring to tour company operations, talk with executives, and interview for the summer positions. Recently, three students returned for a week of job shadowing, where they saw all they have learned over the last 11 months, applied on the job.

“Base Camp students have demonstrated strong project-based coding experience, coupled with a hunger to learn and grow, which is an ideal fit for our company culture,” said Carla Lewis, CIO for C Spire and a founding BCCA board member. “We look forward to challenging them to achieve their potential.”

After hosting a shadowing week for students, Oxford, Miss.-based mTrade made a full-time job offer to one student. “I’m passionate about assessing a candidate’s skills and potential more so than whether or not they have a degree,” said mTrade CTO Zack Watts, noting that software engineering is a field that lends itself to alternative education.

“Technology is changing so rapidly that seasoned engineers need to self-educate to stay current and there are plenty of online tools to do so. The Base Camp education provided a strong foundation that we can easily build upon with real-world experience,” Watts added.

With their mission of providing 100 percent scholarships to all students accepted into the year-long coding program, Base Camp was thrilled to receive a sponsorship grant from FedEx.

“We are deeply appreciative of this generous donation and look forward to our continued relationship with FedEx,” said Bethany Cooper, founding trustee of Base Camp.

The success of the inaugural class at Base Camp came to the notice of Jan and Lawrence Farrington, a couple with a long history of investment in entrepreneurship an philanthropies across Mississippi. The Farringtons have joined the community of businesses, philanthropists, and educational institutions making Base Camp possible as Founding Sponsors.

“This donation means a great deal coming from Jan and Lawrence, Farrington, true leaders and philanthropists supporting technology in Mississippi,” noted Glen Evans, co-founder of Base Camp Coding Academy and President of FNC, Inc.

Each founding sponsor and partner make Base Camp possible and allow it to operate with zero cost to the students. This group of business, education, and philanthropic leaders includes Northwest Mississippi Community College, Diane and Dick Scruggs, the C Spire Foundation, Paige and Glen Evans, FNC / Corelogic, the John N. Palmer Foundation, Renasant Bank, and now FedEx and Jan and Lawrence Farrington.

Base Camp Coding Academy also cited other recent community sponsors who have shown their support, including Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy on behalf of their Make it Happen Foundation, Brainshark, Inc., a web-based software company in Waltham, Mass., and the AOL Charitable Foundation.

The Base Camp board hosted a recent celebration for the graduating class and a fundraiser for the organization with proceeds funding future student scholarships.

As the program celebrates its inaugural year success, Executive Director and co-founder Kagan Coughlin said BCCA is busy recruiting its 2018 class of students. Off to a strong start, Coughlin said teachers, clergy, and other community leaders have been nominating graduating seniors, who have high aptitude and potential, with limited opportunities following high school graduation.

For more information about Base Camp Coding Academy, go to To nominate a student for the full scholarship program, contact Coughlin at The 2018 class will begin on June 1.

About Base Camp Coding Academy
Located in Water Valley, MS, the non-profit Base Camp Coding Academy (BCCA) is a hands-on, challenging and fun program, designed to train high school age students to be software developers. In a small classroom setting, students work with real world technologies to learn the fundamentals of coding, app development and the life leadership skills they will need to be successful in their career and competitive in the job market. The year-long program is free to students and aims to help address the private sector’s historical shortage of high-tech skilled labor by training local youth to fill the positions. Every year, Mississippi has 1,200 unfilled computing jobs and less than 200 computer science graduates.