Per Scholas Partners Google, Barclays & Prudential Talk Proven Success of Per Scholas Model at Propelify Festival

On May 17th, Per Scholas was welcomed to the main stage of the Propelify Innovation Festival with partners from Google, Barclays and Prudential Financial to discuss the ways companies can be driving forces behind alternative talent solutions in the tri-state technology community. This was the festival’s second year showcasing innovative products and solutions in the region. Aaron Price, Propelify founder and CEO commented, “If you’re in the innovation community in the northeast you belong here… What is an airplane without forward motion and lift? Just an idea.”

 The session’s host, Carley Graham Gracia, Head of External Affairs at Google, moderated a lively discussion titled “Propelling Innovation: Changing the Face of Tech.” Carley orchestrated an engaged conversation that focused on cross-sector partnerships that have proven impact to build a diverse and successful workforce. The panel included: Sameer Jain, Chief Technology Officer, Barclays; Mekaelia Davis, Director, Corporate Giving, Prudential; Kelly Richardson, Managing Director, Per Scholas; Anthony Pegues, Software Engineer, MM.LaFleur and Per Scholas alum.

 The panel elevated Per Scholas as a proven workforce training model that puts employers at the center of the equation to develop diverse tech talent. Partnering with leaders in finance, technology, telecommunications and beyond, Per Scholas builds industry recognized curricula, tailored to meet specific employer talent demands. The panel followed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy who spoke to a crowd of over two hundred on the priorities his office has placed on supporting the state’s entrepreneurs and business community as a means to drive innovation and strengthen economic growth opportunities for residents.

 Sameer Jain, representing Per Scholas Champion Partner Barclays, commented that the bank puts heavy priority on teams that look different, think different and therefore develop strong and resilient solutions to the problems of the day. Barclays has enabled Per Scholas to extend training to multiple boroughs and develop a new cybersecurity training track, while bringing in hundreds of volunteers. In addition, the bank has hired over forty Per Scholas graduates, staffing their offices with talent prepared to enter the workforce. Sameer elaborated on Barclays’ continued commitment to Per Scholas that will include resources and thought leadership to help Per Scholas scale impact across the region and serve even more students in 2019.

 Mekaelia Davis, representing Prudential, spoke to the crowd about the strength of the Newark, NJ business and workforce community. “[Newark] is really prime and right for innovation,” Mekaelia said. “We are proud of partners who are building a tech ecosystem. This includes Girls Who Code who is going into their fourth year in the city of Newark, Newark Venture Partners who are incubating tech companies in the city and Apple who has engineers working with our public schools  to design better math curriculum, all so we can build a stronger pipeline of engineers in the city.”

 Kelly Richardson, Managing Director for Per Scholas discussed the value that Per Scholas presents to employers as an alternate talent resource. “What we are starting to see is major employers, Fortune 500s, tech startups, folks here in the audience today, coming to us to say ‘we really care about diversity in our tech workforce and you can help us design a solution to get there’” commented Kelly. “Our vision at Per Scholas is that we can walk into any tech employer in any city in the country and see a workforce that is as diverse and beautiful as the students of Per Scholas.”

 One of those graduates, Per Scholas alum Anthony Pegues closed out the panel with a strong message for employers in the audience. After taking a look at his watch Anthony commented “about a year ago at this time, I would be mopping the floor of a high school auditorium. Now I am sitting on stage talking about my skills and training and heading back to my office to put in work as a developer with MM.LaFleur in downtown Manhattan. What people need is an opportunity, and Per Scholas is able to provide that chance.” 

Per Scholas at the Propelify Festival (Left to Right): Plinio Ayala, President and CEO; Kelly Richardson, Managing Director, New York; Michelle Pullaro, Chief Administrative Officer; Bolaji Saibu, Manager, Technical Instruction; Jameka Hall, Manager, Admissions; Anthony Pegues, Software Engineer, MM.LaFleur and Per Scholas alum; Priya Ramanathan, Director, Program; Jacob McIntosh, Director, Strategic Communications; Tony Gaston, Senior Manager, Business Solutions; and Tiernan Walsh, Senior Manager, Business Solutions

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