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Fintech Bootcamp Boots Up Under the Direction of CICS’s Jim Flynn

Digital Ready students attending the first CICS-led Fintech Bootcamp on the Mount Ida campus in July.

Recently, over 60 college-aged students gathered together in the Applied Science Center at UMass Amherst’s Mount Ida campus in Newton. The first cohort of the Commonwealth Fintech Bootcamp, they were welcomed by Jim Flynn, assistant dean for research business development at UMass Amherst’s College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS).

UMass is making a name for itself in the world of fintech—which is the application of cutting-edge technology to create innovative financial services. Recently, CICS partnered with 26 other Massachusetts institutions, both public and private, to launch the Mass Fintech Hub, which will assist in addressing key challenges in the fintech industry, including increasing access to capital and enhancing collaboration among the state's largest financial institutions, startups, investors, nonprofits and academia. The ultimate goal is to help make Massachusetts the center of the fintech universe.

For Flynn, who co-leads the Hub’s Talent, Academics, and Diversity workstream, success will be measured not only in terms of market share but in the diversity of the workforce. This is where the Commonwealth Fintech Bootcamps come in.

The Bootcamp, which was run this past July in partnership with Digital Ready, a non-profit that works with under-represented public high-school students in Boston, was a two-day crash-course in the world of fintech. The goal was to prepare the students to pursue a four-year degree studying fintech.

Digital Ready has also partnered with UMass to host a living learning-lab on the Mount Ida Campus, where students will participate in an exploratory pathway program and have the opportunity to pursue admission into full-time undergraduate programs at UMass, including computer science.

“It was awesome and inspirational,” said Flynn. “You could feel the energy and goodwill.” Speakers included Lamont Young, executive vice president at Citizen’s Bank, Gavin Andresen, former chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation and entrepreneur in residence at CICS, Tanya Van Court, founder and CEO of Goalsetter, and CICS’s own professor Erik Learned-Miller.

Flynn’s just getting started. He’s launching a mentoring program with Fidelity Investments and will begin recruiting the first batch of students in September. In October, Flynn will be helping to host a career fair at Boston Fintech Week. And the next bootcamp will happen in November.

“Fintech is booming, and it’s wonderful to see all the interest, among students, state government, non-profits, industry partners, and in educational institutions, like UMass,” says Flynn.