Our Boldest Experiment Yet: Satellite

Per Scholas Perspectives - Plinio Ayala

Our Boldest Experiment Yet: Satellite

New York City is awash with talent, attracting droves from around the globe. Yet, access to the vast array of opportunities within the city remains uneven – and even inaccessible – to all. One of the biggest barriers that exist in the nation’s largest city is commutable distances between boroughs. Entire communities within New York City remain cut off from prosperity geographically, culturally, and economically. The recent COVID-19 pandemic, the accompanying economic downturn, and the present rebound have made stark some of the persistent inequities in the city, prompting calls for action from City Hall, the business community, and others to ensure New York’s recovery is centered on equity and economic mobility. 

In perhaps our boldest experiment yet, Per Scholas has launched our Satellite Model where we embed our programming with a partner organization’s physical location and harness that entity’s connections with the local community, complementary services, and staff to expand access to high-quality tech training and careers. This hybrid approach to training offers remote instruction from Per Scholas’s Bronx or Brooklyn campus to learners in East New York, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. I am so proud that for the first time in our organizational history, we are training in all five boroughs. 

Learners enrolled at a Satellite location experience the same programming and are held to the same high standards as those enrolled at Per Scholas. Staff from Per Scholas and Satellite organizations work collaboratively to provide professional development, learner support, exposure to the tech industry, and career planning and job search assistance. 

Partnering for Impact

Through the generous support of our Founder’s Circle partner Barclays, we’ve developed a report assessing the Satellite Model’s structure, promise, and early learnings. The Satellite Model is designed to tap into and uplift both the New Yorkers who are far too often overlooked as potential technology talent, as well as the rich but fragmented ecosystem of workforce organizations and programs operating in areas of the city that are less accessible geographically to Per Scholas’s campuses. 

Here were our key findings:

  • The Satellite Model is broadening Per Scholas’s reach into new communities and addressing unmet demand for locally accessible tech training.
  • Learners to date receive what appears to be an equal training experience.
  • The Satellite Model incorporates an extensive scaffolding of capacity-building supports to set partner organizations – and the partnerships – up for success.
  • A Satellite “ecosystem” is taking shape, linking Satellite partners to one another as well as to Per Scholas.
  • Per Scholas and its Satellite partners are building a compelling story about collaborative outcomes and impacts.
  • The Satellite Model holds promise for achieving greater efficiencies in staffing and costs in the long run but will necessitate Per Scholas staff to play significant roles in program implementation and administration for longer than anticipated. 

National Potential

“The Satellite Model allows for Per Scholas to meet the growing demand for tech training and will help more individuals launch upwardly mobile careers,” said Deborah Goldfarb, Global Head of Citizenship for Barclays. “Critically, Per Scholas will be able to further break down barriers and create access for learners across New York City and beyond.” 

The Satellite approach could have national implications in the future, beyond New York City. It might prove to be applicable in a market covering a large geographic area with sufficient tech employment opportunities dispersed throughout. If an appropriate community organization in a suburban or rural area can be identified to partner with the Per Scholas campus in a central business district, the Satellite Model is one promising strategy for increasing access to training for more prospective learners. 


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