Per Scholas Awarded $1 Million Grant from JPMorgan Chase to Scale Apprenticeship Program
Per Scholas is excited to announce that we received a $1 million grant from JPMorgan Chase to help expand apprenticeship opportunities for learners and scale programs for in-demand occupations.
We are one of four organizations to receive the philanthropic commitment totaling $3.5 million. This commitment will support Per Scholas in developing and piloting a new cybersecurity apprenticeship initiative, which addresses a critical labor shortage while testing a sustainable, innovative, earn-and-learn approach to achieving economic mobility.
“We are incredibly grateful for this generous investment, which will increase our impact and create economic mobility for thousands of individuals in communities across the country, including an anticipated $80M generated in first-year wages for new cyber technologists historically underrepresented in the cybersecurity space,” said Per Scholas President & CEO Plinio Ayala. “We are excited to partner with employers across the country to make this program a success and help close the cybersecurity skills gap.”
This support will also help us expand our existing suite of cybersecurity training programs to reach more learners annually, recruiting unemployed and underemployed talent from Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark, St. Louis and Greater Washington region.
Per Scholas Celebrates $20 Million Investment from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott
Per Scholas Celebrates $20 Million Investment from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott
Transformational Investment Propels and Positions Tech Skills Nonprofit for National Future Impact
BRONX, New York (September 28, 2023) – Per Scholas, a national nonprofit committed to advancing economic mobility and unlocking potential through technology career training, today announced a $20 million investment from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
Receiving this transformational investment from MacKenzie Scott, one of the most dynamic philanthropists in modern times, is a testament to Per Scholas' impact over our nearly 30 year history. As we've evolved from a computer recycler in the South Bronx to a technical skills trainer in 22 cities and counting across America, we are so grateful for this $20 million gift – the largest, unrestricted funding our organization has ever received. This investment will propel Per Scholas for even greater national impact well into the future, centered on growth and innovation and ensuring our alumni achieve a thriving wage through our Career Accelerator.— Plinio Ayala, President & CEO, Per Scholas
To date, Per Scholas has prepared more than 20,000 individuals across the U.S. for high-growth careers in technology by offering tuition-free, rigorous, 12- to 15-week training in the nation’s most in-demand tech skills. The evidence-based Per Scholas model has been proven in multiple gold-standard research studies, and on average, Per Scholas-trained technologists go on to earn three times their pre-training wage in their first job following graduation. All told, Per Scholas graduates have earned more than $2.4 billion in their post-Per Scholas careers, powering economic advancement in communities across the nation.
Per Scholas connects graduates to high growth careers through our network of 850+ employer partners, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups, and supports alumni through the organization’s latest innovation, the Career Accelerator, which provides Per Scholas alumni short-term upskilling opportunities, in turn propelling careers. As a result, every dollar invested in Per Scholas results in at least $8 in net economic return.
I'd like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to Per Scholas staff, funders, employer partners, and supporters, who have believed in our mission to advance economic equity and increase opportunity through America's hottest sector - technology. While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life in ways previously unimagined, it presented the opportunity for Per Scholas to innovate a new delivery model, which proved so successful that we were able to scale our impact four-fold. I echo Plinio's gratitude to Ms. Scott - this $20 million investment will certainly position Per Scholas well into our next decade of unlocking potential.— Lewis Miller, Per Scholas Co-Founder and National Board Chair
Today, Per Scholas operates in 20+ U.S. markets including Atlanta, Baltimore, Greater Boston, Chicago, Greater Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Newark, New York, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. This investment will enable Per Scholas to continue to expand its training and talent solutions to additional communities across the United States, with the goal of training 10,000 learners per year by 2026.
About Per Scholas
For more than 25 years, Per Scholas has been advancing equity and increasing opportunity across America. Per Scholas unlocks potential for individuals, communities, and employers through rigorous training for careers in tech. Partnering with dynamic employer partners, from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups, we are building sustainable and diverse talent pipelines, together changing the face of tech. With national remote training and campuses in 20+ cities and growing, Per Scholas offers tuition-free training in the most in-demand tech skills, including Cloud, Cybersecurity, Data Engineering, IT Support, Software Engineering, and more.
To date, more than 20,000 individuals have gained the skills to launch high-growth tech careers, earning three times their pre-training wage. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is in our DNA: 85 percent of Per Scholas learners are people of color, two in five are women, and more than half have a high school diploma as their highest education credential. Visit PerScholas.org and follow us on LinkedIn, X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Meet Esther, Per Scholas Dallas Graduate & Technologist
Esther is just one of Per Scholas’ 20,000+ alumni. She’s a proud Per Scholas Dallas IT Support graduate and successful career switcher, living her dream of working in tech. Click below to hear her story and how she’s benefitting from the Career Accelerator – earning more stackable credentials to propel her tech career!
Per Scholas Greater Boston Technologists Thriving with MassTLC Member Companies
Earlier in August, MassTLC featured Per Scholas Greater Boston in an article for their member companies, Investing in Success: The Power of Hiring Per Scholas Alumni. The article showcased two Per Scholas Greater Boston technologists that have launched their tech careers with MassTLC member companies.
Fabio Benoit, a Technical Support Analyst within the Analytics Department at Bullhorn Inc. graduated from the Software Engineering Full Stack Developer cohort in March 2022. Hiba Abbaker, who graduated from the AWS re/Start training in January 2021 and is now working at Slalom_Build as a Platform Engineer, was also featured in the article.
Fabio and Hiba are two of the more than 600 Per Scholas Greater Boston graduates that have started their careers in tech from trainings including Software Engineering, AWS re/Start, IT Support, Cybersecurity, and more. In collaboration with partners including MassTLC and their member companies, Per Scholas technologists are launching their careers in tech, and unlocking potential for themselves, their companies, and the Greater Boston community.
Advancing Hispanic and Latinx Presence in Tech
THE STATE OF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION IN TECH
Although there have been advancements over the years in the diversity of the tech field, the broad field of technology is still heavily dominated by white men, and now is a good time to celebrate the many accomplishments of our Hispanic and Latinx co-workers and learners while reflecting on the state of diversity in tech. Black, female, Latino/a, and other minorities remain greatly underrepresented throughout the tech industry.
In recent years, more emphasis has been put nationally on the importance of promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in the workplace, but the tech industry still has a long way to go in becoming a more equitable workforce.
- For example, in 2014, Google, a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest tech companies, reported that only 2.9% of their employees were Latino/a.
- Google promised to commit over $150 million to increasing diversity at their company but, by 2020, just 5.9% of their workforce identified as Latino/a, a definite improvement, but nowhere near representative of the U.S. population.
- According to a 2021 analysis of federal government data by the Pew Research Center, Hispanic workers make up 17% of total employment across all occupations, but make up just 8% of tech workers.
WHY DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION MATTERS
Currently, there are a myriad of barriers for minority individuals looking to enter the tech workforce. In addition to the bias and discrimination towards certain minorities that still, unfortunately, exist in a disproportionately high amount in the STEM fields, lack of access to opportunity and specified support within the tech field, our country’s digital divide, racial wage gaps, poverty, systemic inequalities, and even disparities in reliable internet access, are all barriers to entry for potentially talented individuals seeking to become involved in tech.
Creating pathways for more diverse talent to get involved in tech is the first step in building a diverse workforce. While tech training programs and bootcamps can help alleviate some barriers into the tech field by costing less and being quicker than the typical four-year degree, many are still prohibitively expensive and do not adequately target underrepresented groups for recruitment.
CELEBRATING HISPANIC HERITAGE
Each year, Per Scholas observes National Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15th to October 15th, to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of those and their ancestors who come from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. A fun fact: 27% of Per Scholas’ staff and 14% of our learners identify as Hispanic/Latino!
An important step in bringing more diversity to the tech field, beyond simply preparing learners to launch their careers, is showing people from various minority-in-tech backgrounds that success is possible for them in the tech field. In a 2021 study, the Pew Research Center found that over half of Hispanic Americans they surveyed felt that young Hispanic people would be a lot more likely to pursue a STEM degree if they saw examples of high achievers in the field who were Hispanic or Latinx. Earlier this year, Per Scholas partnered with executive advancement company Guerrero Media to create The Code Breakers: Women in Tech campaign. Each week, this campaign spotlights exemplary women who have built successful careers working in tech, breaking down barriers and paving the way for other minority technologists to pursue paths in tech.
One of our learners who was featured in this campaign is Sara Peña, a Latina woman from Boston who was working as a musician before making the bold decision to switch to a career in tech. Like many people, Sara found herself in a financial crisis during the Covid pandemic when she was laid off from her job. With no income and an insurmountable amount of student loans, Sara had to pivot to a more stable career. A friend mentioned she should look into coding, something Sara had once noted in passing as an interest, so she began researching different boot camps. Sara found Per Scholas through an online search and was intrigued by our mission and course offerings. She applied and was soon accepted into our Software Engineering course at Per Scholas Boston.
Although the course was tough, Sara’s perseverance and dedication helped her through, and she thrived in the program. “It is no secret how daunting it is to…start anew in a career you never thought yourself capable of,” Sara reflected. “In moments where I thought this is too much, too hard, too overwhelming, I remembered in my heart of hearts, this is what I wanted to do and this opportunity was given to me. It was something that I didn’t want to put to waste.” Shortly after graduating, Sara started her new career as a Software Developer at engineering company nou Systems, where she has been continuing to learn. She is working toward earning further certifications and exploring all that the tech field has to offer.
- While women comprise 28.8% of the U.S. tech workforce, Latina women hold only 2% of jobs in STEM.
Spreading stories like Sara’s can help encourage other Latinos and minority individuals that success is possible for them in the tech field. Per Scholas learners of various ages, gender identities, races, ethnicities, physical abilities, and backgrounds have been able to launch thriving tech careers following Per Scholas’ courses. No one should be barred from pursuing a career in tech due to a lack of connection, and the success of our learners serves to encourage others to apply, breaking down barriers to entry in tech.
THE FUTURE OF THE TECH INDUSTRY
At Per Scholas, we are expanding in the future to different cities and doing our research to make sure there is a market that has plenty of job openings and diverse demographics to fill those openings with our skilled graduates. As we continue to train diverse individuals and diversify the tech workforce, we have to consider what the face of tech will look like in the future and how we get there.
With a more diverse workforce that includes the Hispanic and Latinx culture and history, more ideas and insight are at the helm of advancements. It has been reported that organizations ranking high in internal ethnic, gender, age, and cultural diversity regularly perform significantly higher than their industry peers in terms of financial returns and employee satisfaction. Both the business and social cases for diversity are strong. It is now up to individual companies to put in the work to improve the diversity of their workforces, and Per Scholas is happy to help facilitate the process.
The promotion of DEIB in the tech workplace begins with opportunity and intentionality. The IT field has a long way to go in order to become a totally diverse and inclusive community, but it is headed in the right direction. Per Scholas is committed to helping drive this change, transforming the face of technology by opening pathways of opportunity for diverse talent, showing minority-in-tech individuals that success is possible for them in the IT field, and helping other organizations create more inclusive, intentional, and equitable workforces.
We are committed to breaking down the barriers that keep people from entering the tech industry and our cost-free, high-quality tech training seeks to further open the pathway into tech for those who would otherwise not have had the opportunity.
TD Bank Leaders Volunteer with Per Scholas Learners for Mock Interviews
On May 15, more than 25 leaders from TD Bank volunteered their time and participated in mock interviews with a Cybersecurity Cohort of Per Scholas learners from Atlanta, Newark, and Boston. Corporate volunteerism is critical in Per Scholas’ training and provides an opportunity to connect with business leaders and gain industry insight.
TD Bank leaders had a chance to give back by helping aspiring technologists improve their communication skills, learn about key technical content, and better understand varied corporate cultures. Volunteers had the opportunity to provide insight on their technical skills, social and emotional intelligence at work, and career pathways through mock interviews. The advice and insight given greatly impacts Per Scholas learners. Through this interaction, learners are able to increase their knowledge about a corporate environment and gain valuable practice speaking with a working technical professional.
To learn how you can volunteer with Per Scholas, reach out to Robert Wilhelm at [email protected].
Per Scholas Greater Boston Managing Director, H. Kay Howard, Interviewed by GreenLight Fund Boston
Per Scholas Greater Boston Managing Director H. Kay Howard was interviewed by the Boston chapter of GreenLight Fund, a national nonprofit that helps open opportunities for children, youth, and families experiencing poverty through community engagement and investment.
GreenLight Fund Boston invested in Per Scholas in 2019 to provide alternative pathways to meaningful, high-paying careers. Per Scholas Greater Boston’s former Managing Director, Robin Nadeau, helped launch, grow, and develop Per Scholas Greater Boston before accepting a new role as Regional Senior Vice President. H. Kay Howard has now taken on the position of Managing Director, and we are excited for all she will bring to the organization as our Greater Boston campus continues to grow!
Read H. Kay Howard’s full interview here, in which she discusses her background, how she came to Per Scholas, the ways in which she exemplifies our organization’s values, and her plans for the campus’ future growth and development.
Per Scholas AWS re/Start Alumni, Olumuyiwa Kolayemi, Interviewed by Amazon Web Services
Olumuyiwa Kolayemi, an alumni of Per Scholas Greater Boston’s AWS re/Start course, was interviewed by Amazon Web Services about his experiences at and beyond his time at Per Scholas. The interview is featured on Amazon Web Services’ official YouTube channel.
“[The program] was a 4-month training,” Olumuyiwa recalled in the interview. “It was very intensive, but it was very encouraging. I felt very supported by the instructors and the other people in the program.
Olumuyiwa, a native of Nigeria, graduated from Per Scholas’ AWS re/Start course in 2021, and has since returned to Per Scholas for an alumni cybersecurity upskilling course.
Upon completing the AWS re/Start course, Olumuyiwa’s instructors helped him prepare for job interviews. He has since landed a job as a Platform Engineer at Slalom Build, where he works to this day.
Olumuyiwa is glad that he is now able to support his family, including his family members back in Nigeria. “I have been able to enjoy a lot of rapid progression in the two years since I started my tech journey,” Olumuyiwa said. “It has really changed my life.”