Per Scholas in the News – September 2021
September was a busy month for Per Scholas! We were featured in various media outlets that showcased our President and CEO Plinio Ayala and the impact of a few of our seventeen locations. Did you read the OpEd Plinio Ayala wrote for New York Daily News on the job market and how creating a more inclusive labor market for employers and employees is beneficial for the country or see that Per Scholas was named a top tech program preparing youth to build the future in Baltimore? Per Scholas Newark also made waves in September in the headlines striving for job equity while one of our Dallas graduates was featured in Parade Magazine.
Plinio Ayala penned an opinion piece for New York Daily News on creating a more inclusive labor market for employers and employees. “By prioritizing funding for evidence-based programs, we can do a better job of ensuring that federal legislation is actually supporting economic mobility rather than just funding nonprofits,” he mentions. In this essay, titled ‘The Missing Link in Biden’s Jobs Plan,’ Ayala reflects on how tech training programs such as Per Scholas are able to bridge the gap between the abundance of open jobs and individuals with the skills necessary to fill them. “As the president and CEO of Per Scholas, a nonprofit that provides tuition-free training for careers in the technology sector, I’ve seen firsthand the impact programs like these can have on transforming workers’ careers, advancing economic mobility, and positively impacting local economies.”
Per Scholas Newark was featured in New Jersey Business Magazine in an article focused on Newark’s commitment to equitable access to bridge the digital divide. Per Scholas Newark’s Managing Director LaToya Ball noted, “Per Scholas Collaborates with industry-leading employers to build more diverse talent pools, directly connecting our graduates to new career opportunities in fields such as IT support, cybersecurity, AWS re/Start, and software engineering.” Days before that publication, the Arman Roy Foundation hosted their 3rd Annual Run for Hope 5k in partnership with Per Scholas Newark. The 5k was in-person and had a virtual run option as well and raised over $30k towards their mission of bridging the digital divide and creating equity and opportunity for disadvantaged young adults.
Tara Jacobs, a Per Scholas Dallas 2020 graduate, was featured in Parade Magazine for their annual ‘What People Earn’ issue. Tara was showcased on the cover of the publication and noted that because of Per Scholas, she has been able to launch her career in tech. “I serve as the first line of contact within the Service Desk to resolve issues for our customers: troubleshooting, technical support, system set-up, and all things related to customer service. It’s a career I could have never envisioned for myself if not for the tuition-free tech training I received from Per Scholas,” she noted.
Additionally, Per Scholas was named a top tech program preparing youth to build the future in Baltimore by Technical.ly. This is a great recognition noting the impact of Per Scholas in the Baltimore community that we are so proud to have read about. We are excited to continue our efforts to connect individuals underrepresented in the tech industry with thriving tech careers.
With so much great representation in the news in September, we are thrilled to see our impact as we head into the last quarter of the year. Stay tuned to see how we close the book in 2021!
Per Scholas Learner Featured on CBS Sunday Morning
CBS News featured Per Scholas learner, Richard Escotto on their Sunday Morning program. The feature focused on how many industries and labor markets are looking for employees following the pandemic and where those employees are working now. Richard Escotto mentioned that after he lost his restaurant job at the beginning of the pandemic, he decided to change career paths into technology. “[The pandemic] did give me an opportunity that was rare and probably was never going to happen, and sometimes you just have to seize that,” Richard reflected.
Richard Escotto is set to graduate from Per Scholas New York in October 2021 from our Cybersecurity course.
Per Scholas Learners Thrive with Learner Support Team & The Anthem Foundation
When our learners graduate from Per Scholas and launch their careers in tech, we are confident in their ability to succeed in their IT roles as they are well-rounded with technical skills, career development, and life skills brought on by our Learner Support Team. Per Scholas created a national Learner Support Team at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, to ensure every learner across every campus could access these supports. A recent multi-year grant from the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., will help us expand our national Learner Support Team and our ability to provide virtual wellness workshops, COVID-19 health education, and one-on-one mental health sessions, all to manage stress and anxiety during the pandemic and beyond. As a result of this investment, 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.
We’ve seen the impact of the Learner Support Team on learners including Franchelis Encarnacion and Travis McCullough, who both took advantage of this support.
Since her childhood in the Dominican Republic, Franchelis was always intrigued by technology and working with computers. Her exposure to technology all began when her mother put her into a computer basics program at the age of ten that piqued her interest throughout her life. In 2021, Franchelis applied for the IT Support course at Per Scholas New York after obtaining her GED at The Door with her passion for technology in mind. When she first started her training at Per Scholas, Franchelis was concerned that she couldn’t complete her training because everyone else had more experience, but her mentor from the Learner Support Team, Amanda, encouraged her to keep going and was a great point of reference for motivation. “As an ESL learner with Spanish as my first language, it was difficult for me to understand the tech verbiage, but I learned a lot of vocabulary through Per Scholas’ training,” she reflected.
Franchelis took advantage of the Learner Support Team, a program supported through funding from the Anthem Foundation, multiple times throughout her IT Support cohort. Her interactions with Amanda were centered around course-related stress, test preparation, and confidence-building – all aspects which gave her the capabilities to graduate and now have a job in technology. Since graduation, Franchelis received her Google IT certification and is now working for BNY Mellon on the Returning Home project to help set up computers for those who need assistance. With mentorship and career guidance from the Learner Support Team, Franchelis was confident and skilled enough to move forward in her technology career.
Another learner that took advantage of our Learner Support Team is Travis McCullough, a recent Per Scholas graduate from our IT Fundamentals cohort after months of remote training. Previously a paralegal, Travis decided to change career paths and dive further into technology, something he always had an interest in. He would listen to tech podcasts and watch videos to take apart his personal computers but did not have the time, affinity, or money to obtain a four-year degree. On his decision to apply to Per Scholas, Travis recalled, “I saw online with Per Scholas that everything was straightforward and approachable with no fine print. Per Scholas was here to help me learn at no cost. There were no surprises.”
Upon his first week of training, Travis was notified of the different resources Per Scholas provides for its learners – one of which he took advantage of as his training progressed. Travis took advantage of Per Scholas’ Learner Support Team, and reached out to Devin, a Learner Support Manager, to review his financial plan and scholarship opportunities. They met every two weeks to review different resources for financial planning, test anxiety, study tools, and IT engagement. Travis recalled the impact his Learner Support Team had on his experience: “It was exactly what I needed; more than what I came to them for. The entire process was awesome.” Now, Travis has graduated, and a new career in IT is on the horizon.
Travis has already acquired his Google IT certification and graduated from Per Scholas at the end of July, tested for his CompTIA A+ certification, and will start his career in technology – where he already has multiple job offers to come his way. Travis is excited for his future and credits taking advantage of the professional development aspect of his course and the Learner Support Team to reaching this point of his newfound career path – just like Franchelis.
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.
Growing to Train More Learners Nationwide
In June, Per Scholas made waves and became a greater source of technical training and career development through several important partnerships, recognitions, and collaborations. With such opportunities to grow and be recognized for the work we are doing to connect skilled individuals that were previously underrepresented in the tech community, our reach is set to grow in the coming months and years.
We’re humbled by growth capital investment from The Studio @ Blue Meridian, an initiative by Blue Meridian Partners, which provides social sector organizations flexible resources so we can test, iterate, and refine our model in order to accelerate readiness to significantly scale. Blue Meridian joins Lever for Change and other critical supporters in powering Per Scholas’ growth to 10,000 learners per year by 2025.
With our Champion Partner, TEKsystems, we graduated our first in-person training since the pandemic began! Learners in New York completed a new customized Low Voltage Technician training program developed specifically for TEKsystems’ career opportunities. We also hosted graduations in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, and Pittsburgh, resulting in over 75 trained Java Developers and Desktop Support skilled workers, ready for full-time employment.
Per Scholas was named a talent developer by OneTen, a coalition of leading executives who are working to change the approach to recruiting, hiring, advancing and promoting talent to put skills first. Our mission to advance economic equity through rigorous training for tech careers and connecting skilled talent to leading businesses goes hand-in-hand with OneTen’s vision to upskill, hire, and advance one million Black Americans over the next 10 years. “We look forward to having Per Scholas join us as an endorsed talent developer to support us in our mission to hire and advance one million Black talent in the next ten years,” said Maurice Jones, Chief Executive Officer of OneTen. “This effort will require a high functioning, multi-disciplinary coalition from corporate America, talent developers, Black talent, talent supports, and others, and it is crucial we have high quality partners like Per Scholas on that team. We are grateful for the work they have already done and are excited to partner with them going forward.”
In June, we also celebrated the launch of a new New York Satellite Partnership Initiative, removing barriers to better train learners across New York City. Per Scholas New York Managing Director Abe Mendez joined Staten Island Borough President James Oddo to announce this exciting expansion, which will begin to train Staten Islanders in-person through a partnership with the Staten Island Jewish Community Center this fall.
We are proud to again receive a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, recognizing our organization’s commitment to industry best practices. We are also honored to be awarded Guidestar‘s Platinum Seal of Transparency for nonprofits, a recognition we are extremely grateful to receive. These awards and recognitions enable us to build trust with our partners and learners. Because of this trust, we are confident we will be successful in continuing to train and upskill underrepresented individuals for thriving careers in America’s tech workforce, achieving our goal of providing free tech training to more than 3,000 learners this year and growing to 10,000 learners annually by 2025.
Our June News Recap
Here’s a recap of Per Scholas in the news for June! This month, we were featured in the press with articles over Juneteenth, our impact in the New York job market, and featuring our learners and graduates. To read all of our features, be sure to check out our links below!
- One story in Crain’s New York featured our EVP, Kenneth Walker, with an opinion piece about diversity in the workforce in Corporate America. He challenges businesses and organizations to use their resources to diversify their workforce and stated, “companies should be turning to DEI consulting firms to better understand how bias plays out in their workplace so that they can build in processes that eliminate hiring biases that may be preventing diverse talent from joining their teams.”
- Another article in Crains’ New York mentioned one of our learners as Per Scholas aims to lower New York’s unemployment rate through tech training.
- Our New York recent exposure didn’t stop there. We were featured in the New York Times, where it was discussed that the comprehensive training approach has been refined at successful nonprofits, such as Per Scholas, that have spent decades dedicated to lifting people into the middle class.
- Lastly, in Dallas, we were named as a finalist in D CEO’s Nonprofit and Citizenship Awards for Outstanding Innovation in Nonprofits! As we train individuals in technology, innovation is essential, so this nomination and announcement of us as finalists is monumental.
Per Scholas Collaborates with Staten Island for Satellite Partnership Initiative
Per Scholas has collaborated with Staten Island for our Satellite Partnership Initiative to better serve our New York community with a Staten Island site. Per Scholas New York Managing Director Abe Mendez met with Borough President James Oddo to announce this exciting expansion news that is set to begin this fall at the Jewish Community Center.
With a fifth of New York’s open jobs being in technology, it is fitting that we begin to target the Staten Island community with our growth. On our collaboration, Oddo said, “This is a world-class entity that is doing this training and job placement. This is the best in this genre. And it’s been doing great things in the other four boroughs. We’re essentially starting the relationship between Staten Island and Per Scholas, and in the fall bringing them to a home on Staten Island, which will be the JCC.”