When Brian Rehg founded Blue Stingray in 2009, he had a vision to use his business for much more than practical purposes. He wanted to find impactful ways to give back to the community as well. The company, which specializes in custom, cloud-based software solutions, started this mission by supporting nonprofits like TREE House of Greater St. Louis and St. Louis Benefit Polo through financial donations and free services. Now, Rehg is using his tech savvy to help local students reach their full potential. Located inside Blue Stingray’s offices on Laclede’s Landing, the Monocle Learning Center offers youth and adults from underserved communities access to technology education and other resources.
At the Monocle Learning Center, Blue Stingray employees serve as mentors, and participants work with resources like laptops, tablets and a collaborative robot named Baxter. The company also helps pay for online courses and offers its own certification program in full stack web development, so students can learn everything they need to know to create their own websites and apps. Rehg says there are plans for future programs in robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) programming, the technology behind smart home automation.
Working with organizations like Boys Hope Girls Hope and Join Hands, Blue Stingray also gives students the opportunity to shadow employees so they can see programming, design and marketing skills in action. For individuals who aren’t interested in technology as a career, the company offers help with other job training. It partners with Call for Help, an organization that serves people who are overcoming crises, trauma and homelessness, to provide assistance with résumé building, interviewing and developing basic computer skills. “Not everyone wants to learn to code, but if they can use PowerPoint or Excel, it increases their career options,” Rehg explains. “It helps people get back on their feet.”
The next step for the Monocle Learning Center is reaching more students. “We can handle more than we currently have, and I want the program to keep growing,” Rehg says. He also wants to help other companies create their own on-site learning centers because he feels these initiatives build the regional workforce and introduce more diversity into the tech field. “Our industry is extremely shorthanded; there is a need for more than 50,000 software engineers,” he notes. “We can help create programmers right here in St. Louis while giving young adults from underserved communities better career opportunities. It’s a win for everyone.”
Pictured at top: CEO Brian Rehg introduces a student to Blue Stingray’s collaborative robot, Baxter.
Photo courtesy of Blue Stingray