If you’re a woman studying computer science at the University of Washington and need a place to live — for free — there’s a new option on the market for you.
As a way to promote the advancement of women in technology, Seattle mobile marketing analytics startup Tune is hosting an 8-bedroom house near the UW campus called Tune House that offers a place to live for women pursuing a degree in computer science and/or information technology.
Tune, which is renting the house, will cover housing costs, weekly groceries, and provide a MacBook to each student for the entire school year starting on Sept. 20 of this year through June 30, 2016.
The six-year-old company, which recently raised a $27 million funding round, established the unique “scholarship program” to create a space and support system for women who have an interest in technology.
“It’s clear that our company’s development and momentum is directly correlated to the strength of the Seattle community and the amazing talent that has been flourishing here,” Tune CEO Peter Hamilton told GeekWire. “With that in mind, we want to be innovative with how we support and engage the community.”
The original idea for Tune House came from Lee and Lucas Brown, the company’s co-founders who lived in a dorm at Babson College specifically for students who wanted to be entrepreneurs. That living situation helped the brothers develop ideas with their peers and share experiences with other students who enjoyed similar interests and lifestyles.
Creating something like the Tune House has been a dream of Lucas and Lee for many years, Hamilton said.
“It’s an opportunity to live in a community setting with like-minded peers who are passionate about technology,” he noted. “There is a great benefit from interacting with each other in a supportive and collaborative environment.”
Hamilton said he doesn’t know of a similar living-learning community hosted by a private company that provides free housing, computers, and resources. He made it clear that the Tune House isn’t a recruiting program for Tune.
“The students aren’t expected to do anything but focus on developing their own academic and entrepreneurial interests in whatever ways are meaningful to them,” he said.
“We obviously want to create awareness about Tune in the community, and if students decide they want to work at Tune post-graduation, it’s a bonus. At the end of the day, we know diversity fuels innovation, and we all benefit by doing whatever we can to foster a dynamic and inclusive engineering ecosystem.”
Tune did most of the planning for the new program internally, but recently reached out to UW faculty and administration to help spread the word. The company, which also launched an engineering summer internship program last year, noted that the house is “not a sorority or club.”
“The long-term vision for Tune House is to become a flourishing special-interest housing community of like-minded peers who are passionate about tech, continuous learning, and innovation,” Hamilton said.
The house, located just a few minutes from the UW campus in Seattle, features three kitchens, four bathrooms, and a fenced yard. In addition to free housing, laptops, and groceries, accepted students will have access to a network of professionals and mentors in the tech industry.
Tune will evaluate applicants on short essays and “their demonstrated passion for technology on and off campus.”
“While academic excellence is a factor, we really want to see students who are innovative, ambitious, engaged with the community,” Hamilton added. “Volunteerism and leadership are also important considerations.”
Applications are due by June 19.
Editor’s note: Tune is a GeekWire annual sponsor.