We turned our $30k marketing budget into scholarships

Chris Lee
Chris Lee
Apr 6, 2020 · 2 min read

Being online, Launch School has weathered the Covid-19 pandemic better than most in-person schools. That, however, hasn’t been equally true for our students, who are comprised mostly of folks looking to transition careers.

Many work in industries that have been completely shut down by shelter-in-place and quarantine rules. Over the past several weeks, I’ve heard so many gut-wrenching stories from students, making deep study seem like a far-fetched luxury. And yet, it’s my opinion that investing in one’s long-term goals is the only way to react to the upcoming recession (see my webinar recording on this topic).

To help students in this urgent time, we recently announced the Launch School Covid-19 Hardship Scholarship. As a small business, allocating $25,000 dollars was a huge investment for us, but we felt strongly that we had to do something.

Today, I’m happy to announce that we ended up giving over $30,000 in scholarships spread across nearly 20% of our student body.

I was touched by so many comments from thoughtful students asking that someone else be considered first and to only consider their request last. And so many of our students, understanding that we are a small business ourselves, only asked for what they needed, with an average request of about $600 (they were free to request as much as needed). I was also humbled by the many stories of sacrifice and perseverance; it’s a reminder for me to always do the right thing because real human lives are at stake.

I also got a few questions around where we got the money — is it funded by some other source or does Launch School just have $30k sitting around? The answer is that we had allocated $25k to do some online advertising and marketing during 2020.

We believe we’re one of the best, if not the best, online learning school for budding software engineers. The “best” may be debatable depending on the criteria you’re looking at, but what’s not debatable is that we’re one of the oldest and we have the highest salaries.

The problem is that very few people know about us because we get out-marketed. Practically every new Launch School student tells me that we were the last option they found or that they wished they had found us sooner. We started saving up last year to build up a marketing budget to combat this problem.

And then, a pandemic happened.

As we’ve done many times before, we decided to reinvest back into Launch School rather than do marketing. This time, the investment would go directly to our existing students and especially the most vulnerable and needy existing students.

Perhaps it’s decisions like these that explain why we keep getting out-marketed. But it’s also decisions like these that explain how our little company can lead the industry in results and build a top-notch community of learners.

I’m happy to forgo marketing to help our students and couldn’t be more proud to be operating Launch School.

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