Per Scholas Celebrates ActivateIT Graduation and Generosity in Denver
ActivateIT, Powered by Per Scholas, has much to celebrate this August! This month, our Denver campus commemorated their fourth graduation and officially celebrated the campus’ launch at this in-person event. Per Scholas’ Chief Impact Officer Bridgette Gray served as the keynote speaker at the celebration. After a year and a half and four cohorts later, ActivateIT, Powered by Per Scholas, has made its mark in the Denver community. ActivateIT is a program under Activate Work that addresses social problems with business solutions and connects underrepresented individuals with careers in financial services, business services, healthcare, skilled trades, and technology.
Twenty-six new IT Support graduates celebrated their accomplishments this August, twelve of which were present for this in-person celebration. More than a third are already employed in tech roles, nearly 50 percent are women, and, through our partnership with designDATA/Doyon group, four joined our remote cohort from Alaska. An additional reason to celebrate comes from a significant contribution from a generous donor that had followed the experience and stories of our learners and wanted to grant them an opportunity to start building real wealth. Each of our graduates will receive $1,500 to contribute to a Roth IRA once opened, and also committed to doing the same for all of our ActivateIT graduates for the next five years. Such a generous and inspiring gift ties into our vision to not just connect graduates to careers, but to build and grow wealth.
Since its inception, ActivateIT has been led by Managing Director Kathryn Harris to advance economic mobility in Denver. In addition to tuition-free training, Activate Work provides alumni services through twelve months of post-placement coaching that works on extending career development, choosing their benefits, and financial capability training. In Denver, our graduates’ average wage was $20 per hour last year and is now up to $25 per hour. Describing this graduation celebration, Kathryn noted, “We really wanted it to be to celebrate all our graduates, thus far, and our current alumni and also to bring in our funders and bring in prospective funders, employers, and hiring managers.” Kathryn also mentioned that seeing all of the graduates together put the whole cohort into perspective. “I think what I am just constantly amazed by during this time of remote learning is how much support, love, and consideration is built between these cohort members. Being together, getting to showcase and recognize how much work our learners have done, and how much they have accomplished was phenomenal.”
One graduate that landed a career after graduation and has seen the impact of his tech training is Marco Vasquez. Marco graduated in August 2021 from the IT Support course and is now an IT Technician. “Per Scholas definitely helped me in not only getting the technical knowledge, but they also prepared me to be an excellent professional,” he reflects. “IT is an industry that is going to be growing nonstop. There are so many opportunities – this is just the beginning, and I plan on getting more certifications.”
We are excited for our IT Support graduates from Denver’s ActivateIT, Powered by Per Scholas cohort and were happy to celebrate the ActivateIT graduation. We know that they have the skills, knowledge, and hands-on training to excel in their IT roles and will continue to succeed in the IT industry. To learn more about ActivateIT, check them out online.
Per Scholas and Anthem Foundation Together Expand Learner Support Team
Funding will provide one-on-one support services for learners at six Per Scholas campuses across the country over next three years
New York, NY (August 3, 2021) – Today, national skills training nonprofit Per Scholas announced a multi-year grant from the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., to expand its national Learner Support Team. Per Scholas, committed to increasing diversity within the tech sector, nationalized Learner Support at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. This grant will expand the tech training organization’s ability to provide virtual wellness workshops, COVID-19 health education, and one-on-one mental health sessions, all with the aim of managing stress and anxiety during the pandemic and beyond.
Through the three-years, with a $700,000 grant from Anthem Foundation, Per Scholas aims to provide more than 5,250 learners across five states and six cities including in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, and New York with robust wellness, stress management, and benefit navigation services.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the physical and mental challenges that Black and brown individuals already face on a day-to-day basis, like career-related anxiety and stress around balancing their work and home life, as well as financial planning. At Per Scholas, we feel it’s our responsibility to support learners throughout their training journey, which is why we’re dedicated to offering robust wellness services as a way to help navigate these challenging times,” said Plinio Ayala, President and CEO of Per Scholas. “The Anthem Foundation’s commitment will provide vital support to thousands of Per Scholas learners over the next three years, ensuring they have access to not just the tech skills, but the life skills they need to secure a good-paying, middle-class career.”
Additionally, the grant will provide ongoing support to alumni who are two-years post-graduation. It is estimated 30 percent of learners will take advantage of the one-on-one individualized service, which will help to facilitate Per Scholas’ nationwide 80 percent placement rate, ultimately enabling learners and alumni from diverse backgrounds to secure quality careers in the tech field.
“Evidence suggests the lack of diversity in the tech industry, coupled with the pandemic’s economic consequences has impacted this disparity even more, which underscores the importance of addressing racial inequalities in the workforce,” said Felicia Norwood, EVP and President, Government Business Division, Anthem, Inc. “Through our collaboration with Per Scholas, we are working to create a more diverse workforce and build pathways to careers in technology for residents in our communities.”
Since the Learner Support Team began to offer its support nationally in March 2020, more than 600 learners have benefitted from quarterly expert panels featuring established speakers to explore the connection between wellness and professional success; weekly wellness and wealth building series to identify strategies, strengthen skills and build reflective personal practices; and opt-in one on one coaching. Coaching is learner-led and structured around goal setting and building plans to achieve them.
To learn more about Per Scholas and its nationally recognized tech training, now offered in 17 cities across the nation, please visit PerScholas.org.
About Per Scholas
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 major metropolitan areas, Per Scholas has trained more than 14,000 individuals in tech skills, building bridges to careers in technology. To learn more, visit perscholas.org.
About Anthem Foundation
The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the organization’s commitment to improving lives and communities. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on critical initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.
Equitable Apprenticeships: Pioneering a More Inclusive Future of Work
Job Training That’s Free Until You’re Hired Is a Blueprint for Biden
Google.org Provides Per Scholas with a $1.5 Million Grant to Advance an Equitable Recover
As we mark one year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic put tens of millions of Americans out of work, we’re starting to see signs of hope. But while vaccinations and reopenings suggest a return of normalcy, many of our most vulnerable community members risk being left behind.
Through a generous partnership, Per Scholas and Google.org are working together to bring free immersive tech skills training and Google Career Certificate programming to 3,000+ BIPOC adults. This is a major contribution to Per Scholas’ goal of to propel 13,000+ diverse adults to a thriving wage by 2023.
Currently, for Black and Hispanic workers, the reported jobless rates remain significantly higher than the general population numbers, as they have been throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. And for many who were working low-wage jobs across leisure, retail and hospitality sectors, these jobs are not expected to come back. Meanwhile, demand for tech talent continues to rise, and employers across industries are paying a renewed focus on filling open roles with diverse talent, including individuals from nontraditional educational backgrounds.
Per Scholas and Google.org are providing individuals traditionally underrepresented in technology with the skills they need to meet these current labor demands, while working to ensure all alumni achieve a true thriving wage – enough to save money for retirement, invest in children’s education, or own a home – within two years of graduation. Through this grant, Google.org is providing free access for learners to its array of Google Career Certificates to 2,000+ Per Scholas alums [ register for IT Automation with Python today].
This work also encompasses support for Per Scholas’ Diverse by Design – which provides corporate leaders with the training and resources they need to recruit, retain, and cultivate diverse talent. Through solutions-driven conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion within tech, DxD produces meaningful content that empowers C-suite leaders to make valuable and socially impactful business decisions, and provides access to sophisticated customized training and talent sourcing solutions.
Google’s own Stephanie LeBlanc-Godfrey, Global Head of Inclusion for Women of Color, recently participated in a Diverse by Design panel discussion, hosted by Per Scholas, titled the 140K: Women and the Pandemic in which we explored the unique challenges that COVID-19 has presented for women and the solutions tech companies are employing to address them. Stephanie emphasized that, “It is our responsibility to make tech careers more accessible to women, and one clear solution to significantly accelerate that opportunity for women is through organizations like Per Scholas, which provide tuition-free tech-training, reducing the barriers of time and financial cost women traditionally face when they are trying to enter the tech industry. This levels the playing field and makes access to tech career opportunities more equitable.”
This announcement builds on a five-year history with Google.org, which has supported local markets in New York and Atlanta, and has already awarded Google Career Certificates to more than 1,000 Per Scholas learners who have completed in Google IT Support Professional and Google IT Automation.
The powerful impact of the Google and Per Scholas tech training partnership comes to life through the experience of our graduates. Curtis Kirksey had been interested in getting into the tech industry for a while, but it wasn’t until he lost his sales job due to the COVID-19 pandemic that he realized it was time to pursue his dream career. In his words, “the life-altering event” taught him that “mindset is crucial to one’s well-being,” and once he realized that, he began working on himself.
Curtis enrolled in Per Scholas’ Network Support training program and, although attending a full-time remote class was extremely challenging, he managed to earn his CompTIA A+, CompTIA Net+, and Google IT Support certifications AND graduated as class Valedictorian.
Curtis was in such high demand that he had several job offers when he graduated. He is currently employed full-time in the tech industry, earning significantly more than he did in his previous role in sales.
“Your opportunities are endless when it comes to this type of industry,” Curtis told WSB-TV Atlanta in a recent interview about his experience. He hopes to one day be chosen to work at the new Google site in Atlanta. “That would be a dream job to work for Google, and to know they are right here in my backyard,” Curtis said. “It gives me hope.”
Google.org’s support is helping propel students like Curtis to successful careers with thriving wages, while also helping Per Scholas advance racial and economic equity in the tech workforce, and create high-quality career pathways opportunities for thousands of diverse individuals who might otherwise never have been able to access them.
An instructor with one of our learners, exploring the internal workings of a computer (pre-Covid).
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Update on Coronavirus
Dear Per Scholas community,
We are continuing to closely monitor development of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and its impact on our training and operations.
Five Key Steps We’ve Taken in Response to the Pandemic
What have we done:
- In 2020, Per Scholas safely transitioned all of our learners to a virtual instruction and learning environment, with all of our staff members also working remotely. You can read about our transition to virtual instruction here.
- We created new virtual volunteering opportunities for our corporate partners, a staff mentoring program to ensure learners feel supported by the full organization, and whole new processes for remote admissions, student support and connecting our graduates with job opportunities.
- In addition, when needed, we have provided laptops, tech training kits, and WIFI access to our learners who did not have this equipment in place. Our rule is that no learners will be excluded from our training courses due to lack of equipment or internet connectivity.
- Thus far, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from learners about their experience, and 90% have been retained despite serious economic, familial and health related barriers.
- The resilience, creativity, and leadership we have seen demonstrated by staff, learners and our partners has been truly remarkable and a testament to the nimbleness we have cultivated for more than twenty-five years.
- In 2021, as local situations allow, we aim to transition some courses back on-site for in-person learning, following strict social distancing, class size limits and other safety protocols such as temperature screenings with every entry, mandatory mask policies, air purification system enhancements and professional cleaning.
- Per Scholas has a critical role to play, providing new skill sets to displaced workers and critical technical talent to businesses seeking to expand their technology workforce.
- Now, more than ever, we have seen our ability to pivot, and are confident in our ability to produce ready-to-work, entry-level and mid-level talent with the technical skills needed to meet the demands of today’s evolving technology job market.
- Moreover, we are learning from this crisis and will embrace new approaches as the economy reopens – expanding training courses in cloud and cybersecurity, developing and launched new blended models of remote and in-person instruction, enabling us to reach more learners, and supplementing in-person corporate site visits with video mock interviews to prepare learners for phone and video screening interviews.
- Per Scholas will be advocating in this recovery for federal, state and local investments to prioritize creating career pathways for diverse individuals to advance into thriving-wage careers.
This is not a time to sit still. Per Scholas’ efforts are more important now than they ever have been. Sustaining our future as an organization will ensure that many more opportunities are available for the diverse tech talent who are graduating from Per Scholas. As we build new processes and solutions to overcome each challenge ahead, our staff, learners and partnerships will take priority in every decision that we make. If there’s one thing that has become clear in this crisis, it is that our entrepreneurial spirit and ability to adapt will ensure the continued success of our graduates.
If you have any questions, please reach out to [email protected] and we will respond as quickly as possible.