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.
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.
Expanding Tech Training in Texas
According to CompTIA’s most recent Tech Jobs Report, Dallas-Fort Worth is among the top metropolitan areas in the nation for the largest number of technology positions. Per Scholas Dallas has long been training and placing diverse Dallas County talent in a variety of these roles, but demand for tech talent continues to grow, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of a recent, generous investment from the JPMorgan Chase & Co., our Per Scholas Dallas campus is now expanding recruitment and enrollment efforts to include learners from neighboring Collin and Tarrant Counties to increase tech training in Texas.
Sixty diverse learners from Collin and Tarrant Counties will have the opportunity to enroll into remote IT Support, Software Engineering, and Cybersecurity training cohorts to begin this November. The grant will also enable Per Scholas Dallas to grow staff capacity and strengthen relationships with employer partners, ensuring that upon graduation, learners have the opportunity to pursue high-growth careers in tech in the region.
“JPMorgan Chase believes it is imperative that our leading corporations work closely with nonprofits and government agencies to help learners of all ages realize their full potential in school — and in life,” said Michelle Thomas, Dallas-based Vice President of Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase.
To date, Per Scholas Dallas has enrolled 85 learners in a variety of tech courses this year, and, including support from this grant, is on track to train 170 learners in 2021. The majority of graduates have gone on to pursue careers in technology, with a handful of graduates hired into roles at JPMorgan Chase’s Dallas-Fort Worth Campus.
“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support from our friends at JPMorgan Chase. This latest investment will enable us to grow our offering to talented individuals who are excited about pursuing a career in technology, one of the highest-growth sectors in our region,” said Stephanie Valadez, Per Scholas Dallas Managing Director. “Since 2015, we’ve been humbled to train more than 1,000 incredible technologists, making a difference for individuals, their families, and their communities. I’m thrilled that we can now train even more learners from neighboring Collin and Tarrant counties as tech demand in our region continues to grow.”
To learn more about upcoming courses offered by Per Scholas Dallas or to hire Per Scholas graduates, please visit PerScholas.org/Dallas.
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.
Toyota Grant Powers Dallas Cybersecurity Cohort
This July, Per Scholas’s Dallas campus will be graduating its second cohort of a new cybersecurity course, made possible by a generous $350,000 grant from Toyota, a champion Per Scholas partner since 2020.
The course was conceptualized before the start of the Covid pandemic and, in addition to a software engineering course, was one of two new courses introduced for Dallas learners during the pandemic.
The course has played a tremendous role in increasing the number of women being trained at the Dallas campus, a long-time goal of Stephanie Valadez, the Per Scholas Dallas Managing Director. The initial cybersecurity cohort was composed of 61% women, bringing the Dallas campus to a current total of 40% women enrolled in 2020, a significant increase from previous years and, Valadez believes, a sign of tremendous success in recruiting women — a strong departure from the typically male-dominated tech field.
Valadez was particularly instrumental in designing the course, and partnering with the instructional team to build the course’s rigorous curriculum, which includes 15-weeks of CompTIA CYSA+ training and certification, customer service and professional development training, and more.
In order to ensure that the curriculum of the course met the needs of employers, a roundtable discussion was held with employers in February of 2020 at the Toyota North America Headquarters in Plano, TX. At this discussion, Per Scholas reviewed the curriculum with cybersecurity executives at 10 different companies, including Toyota, AT&T, Checkpoint, Pepsi Co., and Stack Path, and talked about what they hoped to achieve with course training.
“We had the roundtable discussion with employers to make sure that we were putting forth a strong curriculum that was going to mirror what they needed within their businesses,” Valadez said. “[The curriculum] was truly employer-informed.”
The course grant was designed to fund two cohorts of a cybersecurity course, as well as the creation of an Education Security Operations Center (ESOC) housed at the Downtown Dallas campus, which would provide the equipment and environment to mirror what learners would experience in the workplace.
Due to the pandemic, the center has not yet been built, but there are plans to complete the buildout later this year. Fortunately, course instructors Wycliffe Ikobe and Kayla Mejire (both graduates of Per Scholas Dallas themselves) have been able to leverage digital tools to mimic a similar environment and provide learners with all necessary experience.
Frederick Tsa, a graduate of the cybersecurity course’s first cohort, has been working in the cyber intelligence department of JP Morgan Chase for a few months now. Before Per Scholas, Tsa had an extensive academic background and had worked in a variety of different roles, but had no real experience with cybersecurity. During the pandemic, the company he was working at was having difficulties, and Tsa felt it was time for a change. He was interested in learning something new and pursuing cybersecurity, and he came across the Per Scholas course.
“What Per Scholas gave me was that ambition,” Tsa said. “Getting that industry certification and that training to be able to understand the basics of cybersecurity operations was something that helped me secure my job. From Per Scholas I learned a lot to the point where I was able to articulate that during the interviews and be able to make concise arguments to the point where I was offered the position.”
Athipong Yimsiriwattana, another graduate from Dallas’s first cybersecurity cohort, was working as a fleet service clerk for American Airlines until he was laid off due to the pandemic. Struggling to make ends meet, Yimsiriwattana decided to pursue a lifelong interest in technology and take Per Scholas’s free cybersecurity training course.
The salary for cybersecurity analysts is significantly higher than what Yimsiriwattana was making in his previous role, and he is currently interviewing for roles. “I will be doing something I love doing,” Yimsiriwattana told USA Today in an interview earlier this year about his incredible experience. With support from Toyota and the grant used for our Cybersecurity course, our graduates, like Yimsiriwattana, are able to take their careers to the next level and get the certifications needed to secure a job they are passionate about.
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1,000 Careers Update – Learners are Excelling Because of You!
Dayna and Sadaf are two of hundreds of Per Scholas learners who received tech toolkits as part of our 1,000 Careers Campaign.
Dayna Thomas Tucker, a Per Scholas learner, has personally benefited from the Raspberry Pi toolkit she received. The working mother of two has had a passion for technology and computers since she was young and would work on computers in school to try to figure out how they worked.
We recently connected with Dayna, who reflected, “I received the Raspberry Pi toolkit and gave me access to hands-on experience that I needed. The Raspberry Pi is Linux based and Linux was not something that I was used to. I had to rely solely on commands and learn codes. It was an interesting and fun way for us to learn a new system that was not like my Windows computer. It was definitely something different, but a great experience for someone like myself that has never worked with that type of system before.” Dayna is currently completing her End User Desktop Support training and is set to graduate in June with her eyes set on a technology career.
Another example of how these tech toolkits and laptops assisted in our learner’s success is that of Sadaf Haroon, who received a Macbook for her training. Sadaf obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science originally, but had a gap in her employment once she became a mother. Eager to return to the industry, she looked into Per Scholas’s training as a way to get back and freshen up her skills.
Now a Software Engineer at AT&T, Sadaf initially received multiple job offers within a week of graduation and mentioned how her training and career development at Per Scholas connected her with her current position. Sadaf, an immigrant mother of three, was at first intimidated to resume a career in a thriving field as Tech. “Per Scholas made it easier for me to learn and now I am an earning member of my family. What can be greater than that?”
When we had the chance to chat with Sadaf, she shared, “It was a great initiative to provide the laptop. I was able to keep up with online learning and materials covered in my course since the computer came equipped with everything I needed that was up to date according to the program. It was also exciting to pick up the device and meet according to CDC guidelines.”
The impact of these toolkits is clear – enabling hundreds of learners to pursue training and open doors to high-growth careers in tech.