April 22, 2016 - by Sharon Wienbar

Hackbright Academy Joins Capella

Hackbright CEO

From Hackbright CEO Sharon Wienbar:

Hackbright Academy has exciting news today: we have combined with Capella Education Company, and are now an independent subsidiary of the company. Our mission, values and team remain unchanged and unwavering. More details are here.

Hackbright will remain a growing company, still focused on extending the impact of our mission. We plan and hope for all staff to stay as we grow. We remain singularly focused on women in software engineering. Hackbright will continue to deliver our flagship Fellowship in person. The Fellowship’s immersive learning experience combines computer science fundamentals, professional software development skills, and our unique inclusive, supportive community. With Capella’s resources, we will grow, and quality will always matter more to us than quantity. In fact, we added a new career coach this week.

I've found my people," is something Hackbright students often say when they start here. "Finally," I hear, "I’m among smart, nerdy women who want to build things with code."

I felt the same way when Capella and I first met. Capella shares our mission of access and quality outcomes. They love us for who we are—people who want to help women learn to be great engineers.

The coding school industry is growing rapidly which is attracting interest from larger players. We didn’t put ourselves up for sale, but many companies reached out to us because of our prominent position and reputation for excellence. But in a typical first meeting, most who met Hackbright asked us "why only women?", these were our first and last meetings with those companies. In a compellingly different approach, Capella said "Your focus on women makes you unique. We like your values."

That’s not talk. That’s a fact: Over 75% of Capella’s learners are women, and over half are people of color. From its founding in 1991, Capella broke down barriers that kept non-traditional students out of Masters and PhD programs, just as Hackbright is doing for women and engineering roles.

When David Phillips and Christian Fernandez founded Hackbright, they saw a unique need to create a safe space where women could command the keyboard and whiteboard without having to tolerate mansplaining or worse. Under David's leadership, Hackbright grew its team and built out the quality infrastructure that has supported our students and teachers: lectures and exercises, computer science and professional skills, mentors and partners, career services and Feelings Fridays. Last November, I got to jump in and help the team apply those strengths to a larger audience. Thank you to David for the opportunity to #changetheratio through the dedication of Hackbright’s team, students and community.

A huge element of the Hackbright experience is our community, both inside our campus but more importantly, in industry. Our 600+ mentors and 200+ partner companies deserve immeasurable thanks for contributing to our students’ success over the years.

When our students start at Hackbright, then start new careers as software engineers, they gain new capabilities that unlock their innate potential. The women don’t change who they are, they add to what they can do and the influence they can wield in the community. Hackbright combining with Capella provides us a similar chance to spread our wings and realize our vision of gender diversity in engineering across America.

With Capella as our partner, Hackbright will deepen its resources to support further scale. I'm staying here to #changetheratio. We've asked every Hackbright team member to join the next phase to maximize our impact. Capella will support Hackbright as we grow, with their expertise in teaching job-focused skills to post-secondary learners. Having pioneered online post-baccalaureate degrees, Capella has built a strong community of diverse learners. Learn more about Capella here.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts one million unfilled software engineering jobs in 2020. Traditional education pathways will result in approximately 60,000 women with Computer Science undergraduate degrees by then. Hackbright sees filling that gender and skills gap with women as our moral obligation. Our role is not just about the numbers, but about meaningful cultural change, strong community, student-centric values and our combined impact on society.


  • The purchase closed today and is effective immediately.
  • Hackbright Academy is now a wholly owned, independent subsidiary of Capella Education Corporation.
  • Sharon Wienbar remains Hackbright’s CEO and now reports directly to Capella’s CEO, Kevin Gilligan. Hackbright’s Co-Founder and Chairman, David Phillips, will be an adviser and friend to the school for life.
  • Capella is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Hackbright Academy is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.
  • Hackbright will remain wholly focused on teaching women.
  • Hackbright will remain wholly focused on our in-person education programs.
  • No layoffs are contemplated, and headcount at Hackbright will continue to grow this year and beyond.
  • Learning software engineering will still be hard, and we will still make it fun.
  • Once a Hackbright, always a Hackbright.


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