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Per Scholas Featured in The Columbus Dispatch for Tech Women of Color Workforce Initiative

The Columbus Dispatch featured Per Scholas in an article featuring our Tech Women of Color workforce initiative.  This initiative is supported by a $4.5 million grant that was unanimously approved by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners on International Women’s Day. The free, 15-week course will kick off in July and aims to train 200 women of color in cohorts over the next two years.

Tech women of color at a desk smiling

“We are grateful to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners for providing us the opportunity to be of service to our community, and to our local partners who will come alongside us as we seek to make a transformative impact in this county,” stated Jenn Fowler Howard, Senior Director of the Tech Women of Color Alliance. “We recognize that this project will not only change the lives of the women who participate but will also build stronger families, communities, and businesses for years to come.”

This workforce initiative is part of Per Scholas’s ongoing goal to promote the presence of women in tech.

Read the full article from The Columbus Dispatch here!

 

Per Scholas’ Women in Tech Training Update

When first considering a career in technology, Per Scholas Graduate Olga Sannikov always felt discouraged to enter the field. She was always interested in tech but did not pursue it academically because it was not popular for girls to do so at her school. This has been a common sentiment among women wanting to pursue a career in technology, and an area where Per Scholas is actively helping change the narrative and increase access and opportunity for women technologists nationwide. 

woman in tech on computer

This month, we began training for our first cohort of women learners enrolled in our inaugural Women in Software Engineering (WISE) pre-apprenticeship program. Hosted by Per Scholas National Capital Region, this course was developed with women in mind and understanding the barriers women face entering the industry. Delivered remotely and on a modified schedule to accommodate household responsibilities, learners have access to evening and weekend office hours, tutoring, mentoring, and career development programming. 

Per Scholas was selected as one of five recipients for the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant, presented by U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty J. Walsh. 

“For too long, women have faced barriers to gaining entry into apprenticeships and nontraditional careers,” Secretary Walsh said at the grant presentation. This pioneering training offering for women in tech is also made possible with additional investments from Capital One, The Boeing Company, and Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation

Capital One is passionate about partnering with organizations that are meeting critical workforce development needs, said Kerone Vatel, Head of Community Impact and Investment at Capital One. Per Scholas is closing gaps in equity and opportunity by providing education onramps and support for underrepresented groups, including women, to pursue careers in technology.

“We have the opportunity to learn so much from our WISE learners,” said Diane Duff, Per Scholas National Capital Region Managing Director. “We’ve received generous support to adjust our already proven model to more effectively address the unique challenges facing women who want to enter the tech industry. I’m thrilled that our first training cohort is underway.” 

On International Women’s Day, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners committed to developing the county workforce to meet a growing demand for technology jobs by voting unanimously to approve a more than $4.5 million COVID-19 recovery grant to support the new Tech Women of Color workforce training initiative at our Per Scholas Columbus campus. Additional local supporters of Tech Women of Color include The Columbus Foundation, AT&T, KeyBank, and Bank of America. 

women in tech during a tech training

“We are grateful to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners for providing us the opportunity to be of service to our community, and to our local partners who will come alongside us as we seek to make a transformative impact in this county,” stated Jenn Fowler Howard, Senior Director of the Tech Women of Color Alliance. “We recognize that this project will not only change the lives of the women who participate but will also build stronger families, communities, and businesses for years to come.” 

The first Tech Women of Color cohort will be an IT Fundamentals course and begin this summer. If you’re a Columbus-based business or employer interested in learning more and joining the Tech Women of Color Alliance, led by Per Scholas, please contact Jenn Fowler Howard at [email protected]

We had four women leaders in tech from one of our funders, Capgemini, speak on a panel for Women’s History Month as well. More than 60 women participated, and heard from powerful women leaders on topics including the importance of women in tech leadership roles, working through imposter syndrome, and owning the unique skills that women often possess – empathy, kindness, compassion, and more. We also moderated a quick Q+A session at the end of the event where individuals discussed everything from how to find what you want to specialize in tech-wise to how to balance your life as a wife, mom, and professional. 

Per Scholas is grateful to the many funders and supporters who are making intentional investments in women-centric initiatives, including the AT&T; Atalanta Project – Black Family Philanthropies; Bank of America; Boeing; Boone Family Foundation; Capital One; The Columbus Foundation; Franklin County Board of Commissioners; Goldman Sachs; Kate Spade New York Foundation; KeyBank; The Same Sky Foundation Fund, a Division of the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation; S&P Global; TEKsystems; The Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor; and more.

 

Franklin County Commissioners Invest $4.5 Million To Help Women of Color Join the Tech Sector

Franklin County Commissioners Invest $4.5 Million To Help Women of Color Join the Tech Sector

Columbus, OH – Franklin County was in the headlines last week when President Joe Biden touted local technology investments in his State of the Union speech. On Tuesday, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners committed to developing the county workforce to meet a growing demand for technology jobs, while placing equity at the forefront of their approach.

The Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a more than $4.5 million COVID-19 recovery grant to support the new Tech Women of Color workforce training initiative. This innovative partnership between the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services and the nationally recognized tech training nonprofit Per Scholas will help train and place 200 low-income women of color on the path to self-sufficiency through good-paying jobs.

“When I was 23 coming out of the military with two young daughters, I had an IT background and credentials from the Navy, but I still couldn’t find a job. I was one of those women who just needed a chance,” Commissioner Erica C. Crawley said. “What we’re doing here isn’t a handout. It’s about helping people who are willing and ready to work. They just need a chance.”

Per Scholas graduate at a computer, working

While the economy has rebounded over the past year, job growth especially among women of color, has not kept pace with the overall rate. In January, the nationwide unemployment rates for Black women (5.8 percent) and LatinX women (4.9 percent) were higher than the overall unemployment rate for women. Employment disparities in the technology field predate the pandemic but are even more stark today. Nationwide, Black women only make up 3 percent of the technology workforce while LatinX women account for only 1 percent.

“This was never just going to be about meeting workforce demands. It’s about equitable access, equitable growth and equitable opportunity,” Commissioner John O’Grady said. “If Ohio’s going to become the ‘Silicon Heartland,’ we’re going to do it by giving people who’ve been overlooked and underrepresented in tech the fair shot they deserve.”

The Tech Women of Color initiative is a 15-week program that will offer technical skills training, executive mentoring, financial coaching, and more. Participants will receive paid internships and graduate with industry-recognized credentials – ready to compete for high-paying, in-demand technology jobs.

“The best social service is a good-paying job, but a job alone isn’t going to move you up the economic ladder if the ground beneath can’t support it,” Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce said.  “We’re providing ongoing support so women can finish the program on stable ground and ready to begin that climb.”

In addition to employment placement and retention services, graduates will receive ongoing supportive services to help navigate the “benefits cliff,” which occurs when a small increase in earnings leads to loss of public assistance benefits like food assistance or Publicly Funded Child Care.

“We can’t ask a mom to embark on new career path and then say, ‘but by the way, you won’t be able to drop your baby off at child care.’ This program can’t work if that’s a choice she has to make,” Deputy County Administrator Joy Bivens said. “We’re facing the reality of the benefits cliff and saying, ‘we’re going to walk this path with you and make sure you have the tools to succeed.’”

The initiative is funded with American Rescue Plan Act dollars and will run for two years, through August of 2024.

“Since launching our evidence-based technology training here in Columbus 10 years ago, Per Scholas Columbus has trained and prepared more than 800 learners for in-demand technology jobs across our region. Increasing equity and closing the opportunity gap is core to our work, and I’m looking forward to affecting change right here in Franklin County,” said Noah Mitchell, Managing Director of Per Scholas Columbus. “We are incredibly grateful to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners for this transformational investment and are looking forward to teaming up with the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services to bring this intentional Tech Women of Color training to life.”

Women who are interested in learning more can visit www.PerScholas.org/Columbus.

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The Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services provides timely public assistance benefits and builds community partnership through inclusion, responsiveness and innovation. Learn more at https://jfs.franklincountyohio.gov and follow FCDJFS on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Per Scholas is a national organization that has been advancing economic mobility for 25 years. Through rigorous training, professional development, and robust employer connections, we prepare individuals traditionally underrepresented in technology for high-growth careers in the industry. We partner with leading employers to build more diverse talent pools, directly connecting our graduates to new career opportunities at businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups. With campuses in 17 cities, Per Scholas has trained more than 16,000 individuals in tech skills, building bridges to careers in technology. To learn more, visit PerScholas.org.

Maklayne Vitovich

Per Scholas Graduates Over 250 Learners in 2022

It has already been a busy year of graduations at Per Scholas, with multiple graduations from IT Support, AWS re/Start, Cybersecurity, and Software Engineering courses coming to a close and many more coming up. As we look to train 4,000 learners in 2022, we are well on our way with astonishing numbers from our skilled and qualified graduates. So far, Per Scholas has graduated more than 250 learners, with over 150 graduates acquiring tech certifications.  

“The tenacity and commitment of Per Scholas learners is inspiring, and I’m thrilled for our graduates as they embark on transformational tech careers,” said Jasmine Miller, who was recently promoted to Per Scholas’s Chief Training Officer. 

Notably, our remote training cohorts had learners from New York, Cincinnati, Denver, Greater Boston, and the National Capital Region successfully graduate from our AWS re/Start course. Chubb Executive Vice President and Digital Transformation Officer Julie Dillman joined as graduation speaker.  This graduating cohort hosted over 70 graduates with an average certification rate of over 94%!  

Per Scholas graduates in Zoom background grid

Additionally, we graduated our first two cohorts as part of our satellite partnership.  With over 30 graduates from our innovative satellite training program, we are well on our way to training  1,000 New Yorkers this year.  In this partnership, Per Scholas is teaming up with Commonpoint Queens and with the JCC of Staten Island as Satellite partners in order to offer these trainings in Queens and Staten Island respectively. Commonpoint Queens hosted the course at its Elmhurst Employment Hub and JCC of Staten Island at its Bernikow Headquarters.  

In another Remote Training graduation, with learners from our National Capital Region, Denver, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, and North Carolina campuses, over 100 graduates completed their IT Support training to launch their thriving tech careers. Eugene Jones, Director of ITS at Comcast, spoke as a keynote speaker, encouraging graduates to always keep learning – in tech and in life. 

With support from our funders, brilliant and empowering Instructors, and a strong Learner Support Team, our learners are sure to excel in their next endeavors as they launch their IT careers.  We are eager to see how the year continues on with such a successful start as we connect individuals who have a passion for technology with thriving technology careers. 

 

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