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!
Workday and Salesforce Lead the Way to Volunteer at Per Scholas
Per Scholas is a leader in connecting our learners to thriving tech careers, but not without the help of our partners and staff. There are several ways to get involved and volunteer with Per Scholas and our learners: conducting mock interviews, resume rallies, mentorship, and more! Our Champion Partner, Workday, and our Catalyst Partner, Salesforce, have been leaders in collaborating with us, giving us their time for mock interviews and mentorship since both partnering with us in 2014.
Workday has helped our learners develop as IT professionals through various volunteer events. With over 850 volunteer hours logged for 2021 so far, Workday has made it possible for our learners to grow as tech professionals through mentorship meetings and resume rallies. This past month, they contributed their business professional knowledge to our learners and reviewed our learners’ resumes, and provided feedback on how to improve them to get noticed and showcase their top skills. Workday has partnered with Per Scholas since 2014 and is helping connect our graduates to high-growth careers.
Salesforce has also volunteered their time and experience with Per Scholas. This year alone, they have volunteered more than 1,000 hours as a company. This comes from providing mentorship to our learners before and after graduation, imparting them with interview advice through mock interviews, or reviewing their resumes during one of our resume rally events. Most recently, Salesforce participated in a mock interview session, supporting nine of our learners to continue to develop and hone soft skills needed in an interview. Salesforce team members provided feedback and advice on this crucial part of getting a job in tech.
This month, our own Per Scholas team took part in a mock interview event where we interacted with our learners and provided thoughtful feedback and insight into the interview process. We encourage all of our partners to volunteer their time with our learners and impact their professional development throughout their training at Per Scholas. If you are interested in a volunteer opportunity, either for your company or as an individual, please contact CiCi Flanagan at [email protected]
Per Scholas Named a Tech Program Preparing Youth to Build the Future
Per Scholas Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations are underway around the world and at Per Scholas! The occasion, which runs from September 15 to October 15, is a time to celebrate all of the culture and unique heritage that makes up our Hispanic communities and connect us all to each other. It has been a focus of ours to connect Hispanic learners with top tech companies to help launch them into a career in technology, as they are historically underrepresented in tech.
To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, our President and CEO Plinio Ayala shared a message with our team and encouraged us all to use our shared experiences as a way to connect with one another. He also tapped into his own story as a New York Latino. Plinio grew up in a close-knit neighborhood in the South Bronx, with representation from various Hispanic communities, including Puerto Rican, Mexican, Dominican, Honduran, and others. He related this story of his first trip out of the Barrio recently to Nia Darville, Director, Diverse by Design, as part of the DxD podcast series. Here, he spoke about why what we do at Per Scholas is so important to him on a personal level and the community he came from. Plinio’s story resonates all the way through our Per Scholas team and the learners we interact with as we train them for different IT roles and responsibilities.
Earlier in September, one of our Hispanic learners on track to launch his technology career, Richard Escotto, was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. 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. Since the beginning of 2021, we have trained 300 Hispanic learners for our tuition-free tech training program, a growing number that Richard is happy to be a part of.
New Jersey Business Magazine Features Per Scholas Newark
Per Scholas To Launch Women In Tech Software Engineering Apprenticeship
Fueled by Department of Labor Grant, All-Women Training Cohort in Washington, D.C. Region Starts Early 2022
Photo Credit: Department of Labor, Alyson Fligg
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 10, 2021) – At a ceremony held at Per Scholas’s Philadelphia Campus yesterday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty J. Walsh named Per Scholas one of five new Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant recipients. Joining Secretary Walsh at the announcement was Department of Labor Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon.
Per Scholas will use this grant to launch a Women in Tech Software Engineering Apprenticeship training track at its Washington, D.C.-area campus in 2022. Developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on women workers and in line with Per Scholas’s commitment to increase the number of women and women of color in technology jobs across America, 90 women will be trained over the course of 2022 as a result of this new innovation. The training will be delivered remotely and on a modified schedule, providing flexibility and support for parents or others with caregiving responsibilities. At the end of the 15-week training, graduates will enter a year-long paid apprenticeship in technology roles.
“It can’t be understated just how much the pandemic has impacted our nation – and women and women of color in particular. The creativity, compassion, and innovation from our Per Scholas team to identify this opportunity and create a new, unique offering centered to serve women learners is remarkable,” said Plinio Ayala, President and CEO of Per Scholas. “At Per Scholas, we’re always innovating and adjusting our offerings based on feedback from our employer partners and market demand. I’m very optimistic about our new Women in Tech Software Engineer Apprenticeship offering and have high hopes that we’ll be able to replicate and offer this training in additional markets in the months and years to come with additional, intentional investment.”
Administered by the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau and Employment and Training Administration, the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grants were awarded to four additional organizations based in California, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin. The funding will support grantees in their efforts to recruit, train, and retain more women in quality pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs as well as nontraditional occupations.
“For too long, women have faced barriers to gaining entry into apprenticeships and nontraditional careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty J. Walsh. “As we work to build back a better economy, these grants will empower women to get the training and support they need to secure good-paying jobs and pathways into the middle class. They are an important and effective tool for creating a more inclusive and equitable workforce.”
“The pandemic forced 3 million women out of the labor force, and women of color have borne that job loss the hardest. Black women’s employment is down 7 percent from pre-pandemic levels, and the number of Hispanic women is still down 5 percent. It’s never before been more important for us to advance training, employment, and return to work opportunities that connect women and particularly women of color into higher-wage jobs so that our nation’s economic recovery brings us greater equity,” said Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon.
Two Per Scholas Philadelphia women graduates shared their perspectives during the celebration. Lashay Cokley, who enrolled in Per Scholas training during the pandemic and graduated earlier this year shared, “Ultimately, I feel with technology, I’m able to access so many more possibilities than I was previously.”
“I gained so much from my experience with Per Scholas. It reinforced the knowledge I already had in technology, I gained a lot of new skills, and, most importantly, it gave me the confidence to pursue a career in technology, which is what I’ve always wanted,” said Per Scholas Philadelphia Alumna Susan Tabassum.
“In order to ensure an equitable recovery for women and women of color, investments just like this are essential,” said Caitlyn Brazill, who represented Per Scholas at yesterday’s announcement and serves as the national nonprofit’s Chief Development Officer. “Per Scholas commends the Biden Administration for prioritizing these kinds of investments – in proven programs – that support workers and training for high-growth careers.”
Photos from the September 9, 2021 women in tech event are available, courtesy of the Department of Labor, at this link.
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 cities, Per Scholas has trained more than 14,000 individuals in tech skills, building bridges to careers in technology. To learn more, visit PerScholas.org.
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 President and CEO Plinio Ayala Featured in New York Daily News Opinion Piece
In this opinion piece in New York Daily News, Per Scholas President and CEO, Plinio Ayala, comments on the job market and how creating a more inclusive labor market for employers and employees is beneficial for the country. “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,” Ayala noted.
In this piece, 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 Celebrates Inaugural Graduations in Phoenix and Seattle
Per Scholas has seen a lot of growth in 2021 as we expanded out to the west coast and welcomed our first graduates from Phoenix and Seattle! This month marks Per Scholas’s inaugural Full Stack Java Developer graduations in Phoenix and Seattle, powered by TEKsystems, These graduations follow our initial inaugural commencement in Pittsburgh, where half of Pittsburgh graduates have started their tech careers, several within a financial services institution and others with a logistics company. Since our training began, Per Scholas has been welcomed in these communities as we expand to advance economic mobility coast to coast.
In Phoenix, 19 graduates have mastered specific technical skills employers seek in entry and mid-level Java Developers, advanced their coding skills, and gained experience with Java, data structures, web services, algorithms, and more. Aligned with Per Scholas’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, half of the inaugural cohort in Phoenix identify as people of color and one-fifth as women.
Jaclyn Boyes has joined Per Scholas Phoenix as Managing Director, leading the strategic and programmatic direction of the local campus. Passionate about connecting people to purpose, Jaclyn’s career intersects nonprofit, business, and education. “The inaugural class reached their graduation goal by displaying adaptability, perseverance, and teamwork, and leave with key tech skills employers are seeking. We are thrilled for each learner’s success and excited to see our Per Scholas Phoenix graduates launch an in-demand career in technology,” said Jaclyn. “Thank you to TEKsystems for partnering with us to build a diverse pipeline of highly skilled tech talent here in Arizona.”
Per Scholas Instructors have been instrumental in the success of our inaugural Phoenix cohort. Jafer Al Haboubi, Phoenix’s Instructor, has noted that remotely teaching this cohort was fulfilling and a blessing: “I was happy to teach our beloved learners in Phoenix. They are some of the best learners I have had the pleasure of teaching! During this amazing 15-week journey, I have witnessed how these learners have overachieved their goals with resilience, commitment, and diligence. I feel blessed to change the lives of our learners via Per Scholas’ programs – an organization that truly cares about the community.”
On the far west coast in Seattle, 19 learners successfully graduated from Per Scholas’s inaugural Full Stack Java Developer course. Aligned with Per Scholas’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, two-thirds of learners are people of color, 42 percent identify as women, and half were unemployed for six or more months before they began this free, rigorous tech training.
Jacqueline Ivy Hardin has joined Per Scholas Seattle as Managing Director, leading the strategic and programmatic direction of the local campus. Passionate about creating equitable access to economic prosperity, Jackie’s career intersects workforce development, college access, and talent development. “Per Scholas is incredibly proud to join Seattle’s powerful tech community. Creating pathways to thriving wage careers for individuals traditionally underrepresented in technology is critical to maintaining a strong regional economy. We are excited for the opportunity to provide training that enables participants to kick start their careers in technology while also working toward the goal of creating inclusive economic prosperity in the region,” said Jackie Ivy Hardin, Managing Director, Per Scholas Seattle. “We’re very grateful to our partner TEKsystems and look forward to positively impacting communities across the Pacific Northwest, together.”
We are proud of our new graduates in Phoenix and Seattle as they make their mark in their communities and in the tech industry from our inaugural cohorts in partnership with TEKsystems, a hiring partner since 2015. Cheers to their new skills and careers in technology!
Per Scholas Atlanta Graduates Gain Industry Knowledge Through Capgemini’s Internship Program
Per Scholas has been a leader in connecting our learners with the skills and career development needed to pursue and land an IT career, however, opportunities like those which Capgemini provides have made it possible for our graduates to receive additional hands-on training and opportunities from their robust internship program. Many Per Scholas graduates from Atlanta, and additional cities nationwide, have joined Capgemini as paid interns and become full-time team members after learning more about the IT industry, gaining industry experience, and meeting with mentors. These opportunities are a great bridge between our tech training and industry experience for our learners and graduates.
Rachel Powe graduated from Per Scholas Atlanta in 2020 and is now a Junior Software Engineer at Capgemini. She initially started as an intern at Capgemini, but quickly moved into her current position with her tenacity and passion for technology. Rachel noted that there wasn’t a big push for women in tech when she was attending college, so she didn’t pursue a technology path. Once she graduated from Per Scholas’s Software Engineering course, however, she went into her internship role and was given the opportunity to build her knowledge base, her technical skills, and complete additional certifications through Capgemini.
Rachel reflects, “I would definitely recommend Per Scholas’ training and Capgemini’s internship program, especially for someone that is just starting their career in tech because it will help you identify what you want to do with your career and expose you to the other aspects of being a developer.” Rachel took advantage of every opportunity she had because of her tenacity during her training with Per Scholas and Capgemini. “I don’t think I would have been in this position so soon after graduating if it weren’t for Per Scholas, the partnerships they have, and how much they wanted us to succeed.”
Another Per Scholas learner that benefitted from Capgemini’s internship program was Kemazee Cooper. Kemazee is currently a Support Technician Lead at Capgemini in Atlanta. He was always interested in technology as one of the most prosperous career paths and often found himself fixing phones and computers for friends growing up. Before applying for Per Scholas and considering a tech career, Kemazee was a social worker for a nonprofit organization and decided to start considering IT roles. Once enrolled in Per Scholas’ training, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and as a result, training became remote. Kemazee was able to stay disciplined throughout the training and focus on his skills. Once he graduated, Kemazee accepted an internship with Capgemini where he learned more about the field and different aspects of technology and was eventually hired into a full-time position. “Per Scholas prepared me for situations I may see in the field as we went through a lot of scenarios, workshops, and labs,” he recalled. Next, Kemazee plans to earn an AWS certification and aims to become a mentor for others interested in tech, options he is considering after his experience with Capgemini’s internship program.
A model such as that with Capgemini, following training courses from Per Scholas, is one that is setting technology career-seeking individuals in Atlanta up for success. Not only are our graduates obtaining technical skills and career development knowledge, but they are also gaining industry experience with mentors through Capgemini’s internship program and advancing economic mobility in Atlanta.