Per Scholas North Carolina Celebrates Opening of Innovation Lab

Earlier this month, Per Scholas North Carolina celebrated the opening of its Innovation Lab. The Innovation Lab is a multipurpose space that inspires greater collaboration and enhances our capacity to host activities ranging from mock interviews and study groups to conferences for our learners, and more. 

To help us celebrate the lab, Per Scholas North Carolina hosted an event with current learners, Per Scholas alumni, guest speakers, community and employer partners, and Per Scholas North Carolina Advisory Board members. 

“Our team saw this space as an opportunity to position ourselves at the epicenter of the Innovation that’s happening in Charlotte,” Per Scholas North Carolina Managing Director Mike Terrell reflected. “The co-location with our Charlotte campus enables our community and employer partners to be closest to the heart of our mission: our learners. We look forward to the conversations and events we’ll have in the Innovation Lab and to the impact we will be able to have across the state!”

The Innovation Lab will be instrumental in Per Scholas’s ability to advance tech careers for our learners throughout North Carolina in addition to our partnership with Wilkes Community College and NC Tech Paths, which began earlier this year. Per Scholas North Carolina aims to train 220 learners in 2023 in courses including IT Support, Cybersecurity, and Software Engineering. 

Per Scholas Participates in White House Ceremony Celebrating Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint

On November 15, during National Apprenticeship Week, Per Scholas participated in a White House ceremony celebrating the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint. The event featured remarks from senior White House and agency officials including Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su and Chief Information Officer of the Department of Defense John Sherman on the importance of Registered Apprenticeship in building a skilled and diverse cybersecurity workforce. The signing ceremony recognized a number of representatives from industry associations and training providers, including Per Scholas Chief Training Officer Jasmine Miller.  

Jasmine Miller speaking at the White House


“National Apprenticeship Week reminds Americans of the tremendous benefits that Registered Apprenticeships provide to workers and employers,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “A long-honored approach to educating workers and preparing them for stable careers, today’s Registered Apprenticeships are being revitalized here in the U.S. as a proven strategy that equips workers – especially women and other underrepresented and underserved communities – with marketable skills sought in high-demand industries.”

Per Scholas at White House cybersecurity event

According to the 2022 Cybersecurity Skills Gap report, 60 percent of organizations struggle to recruit cybersecurity talent, more than half struggle to retain qualified people, and two in three agree that a shortage of cybersecurity candidates creates risk for their organization. 

Per Scholas has been offering Cybersecurity training since 2016, first in New York, and today in more than half of our markets nationwide based on demand from both employer partners and learners alike. Yet, we see that our graduates have difficulty breaking into a cybersecurity career without hands-on job experience.

That’s why Per Scholas is so enthusiastic about participating in the Registered Apprenticeship Program, led by the United States Department of Labor. The proven earn-while-you-learn model aims to build a pipeline of skilled workers with a focus on underserved communities. The Registered Apprenticeship Program will enable Per Scholas to partner with employers over a longer on-ramp on 12 months that will provide training, on-the-job experience, and mentorship as a pathway to longer term career advancement. Eleven employer partners formally supported Per Scholas in the application process, with more expressing interest. 


Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala Speaks on Project UP Partner Summit: Spotlight on Digital Skills Panel

On October 18, Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala participated in Comcast’s Project UP Partner Summit. The Summit’s discussions focused on deepening relationships to advance digital equity. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach tens of millions of people, Project UP encompasses the programs and partnerships across Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Sky that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators.

Plinio Ayala speaking on Project UP panel

Plinio was part of a panel, Spotlight on Digital Skills, joining moderator Michael Collins, VP, JFF; Michael Ellison, Co-Founder & CEO, CodePath; and Jessica Santana, Co-Founder & CEO, America On Tech. During the conversation, Plinio discussed creating a climate where people of color can thrive in tech and how Per Scholas is preparing our learners for the in‐demand tech careers of the future. One highlight from the panel included diversity in the workforce and the steps Per Scholas is taking to ensure we continue to empower our learners with tuition-free tech training beyond the 2020 surge of advocacy for diversity and inclusion.

Project UP Panel event

In addition to the panels, the Summit also included an opportunity for Comcast NBCUniversal’s partners and nonprofits nationwide to network. Per Scholas Philadelphia Managing Director Nikki Pumphrey attended the event and was able to learn about innovations from across the country as well as connect with colleagues in Philadelphia to learn from those promising practices.


WorkRise Awards Per Scholas Funding for Advancement Services Pilot Program

Per Scholas is proud to announce that we have been awarded funding from WorkRise, as part of a $2.8 million grant to support innovative pilot studies that test solutions to boost workers’ economic mobility.

This grant will enable Per Scholas and MDRC to understand whether adding alumni advancement coaching services— such as 1:1 coaching, group coaching, employment technical assistance (career plans and résumé reviews), and upskilling referrals—will measurably impact an individual’s trajectory toward a thriving wage, and how these interventions impact different demographic groups.

To read the press release about this tremendous announcement, click here. 


Per Scholas Chicago Celebrates Graduates and Hosts Open House

In early October, we held an Open House at Per Scholas Chicago – the first since opening our doors in the Windy City in June 2020. At our celebratory event, we held a graduation ceremony for our recent End User Desktop Support+ graduates and tour of our facility. 

Per Scholas Chicago graduates

Since launching Per Scholas Chicago in partnership with TEKsystems, we have trained 230 learners for high-growth careers in tech. During our Open House event, we were honored to have Congressman Danny K. Davis, U.S Representative of the 7th District of Illinois in attendance and speak to our graduates. Additional speakers included CompTIA President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux as our keynote speaker, TEKsystems Director of Business Operations Roger Cantu, and Per Scholas Chief Development Officer Caitlyn Brazill. 

CompTIA President and CEO speaking

We were thrilled to hear from Per Scholas Chicago graduate and Advisory Board member Veronica Vergara on her experience and to have Per Scholas Senior Managing Director Andi Drileck acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our graduates. 

Following the graduation ceremonies and remarks, there was an Open House that included networking and checking out the Per Scholas Chicago campus. We look forward to advancing tech careers for more graduates in our Chicago community and connecting our learners to our partners like TEKsystems in the future.


Per Scholas Holds Career Event With Catalyst Partner, Workday

On October 12th, Per Scholas learners enrolled in our Dallas Cybersecurity and IT Support courses took part in a Career Panel event with catalyst partner, Workday. At the event, Workday volunteers contributed their business professional knowledge, discussed career growth, and provided advice to our learners in 1:1 career conversations. 

The event was opened by Lilly Giraldo, Giving & Doing Program Manager at Workday, followed by some words on Per Scholas’ mission and background by Miguelina Manriquez, Per Scholas’ Senior Manager of Corporate Engagement. Attendees then heard about career growth from Jenn Skogg, the Principal B&D Learning Portfolio Manager at Workday, before breaking off into individual conversations between Per Scholas learners and Workday volunteers. 

The professional development opportunities and resources provided by Per Scholas are a unique function of our training program, and one of several factors that set Per Scholas apart from our peer tech training programs. 20% of each of our courses is dedicated to professional development training, and learners are also presented with opportunities, such as this event, in which they can showcase their skills, participate in mock interviews, and receive insight and advice from real employer partners.

Since 2014, Per Scholas has partnered with Workday to create paths to financial security by providing people who do not earn a living wage with skills training and access to better job opportunities in the tech sector. Over the years, hundreds of Workday volunteers have supported Per Scholas learners through mock interviews, resume reviews, guest presentations, and mentoring sessions that prepare learners for entering the tech workplace. Alongside the time and talent of hundreds of Workmate volunteers every year, Workday has made a significant impact on Per Scholas by investing more than $1.4M to date. We look forward to continuing our wonderful partnership with Workday to train individuals for high-growth careers in technology. To learn more about volunteer opportunities and how you can partner with Per Scholas, please reach out to Miguelina Manriquez for more information.


Diverse by Design Golf Tournament Held to Support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

On September 19, 2022, Diverse by Design hosted our annual golf tournament, powered by Per Scholas and ITSMF, with our esteemed corporate partners, sponsors, business leaders, and Per Scholas graduates in attendance. Golfers and colleagues alike headed out on the course at Brae Burn Country Club for a day of friendly competition, fundraising, and skills contests. 

We also presented our second annual Diverse by Design North Star Award to Michael Buckham-White, Global Managing Director, Deloitte Technology; Stephen DeStefani, SVP, Technology Diverse Segments, Representation & Inclusion, Wells Fargo; Janet Pope, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, Capgemini Global Consulting Group, and Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach and the only black active head coach in the NFL. Coach Tomlin was unable to attend; however, you can watch his acceptance video here

North Star Award honorees

Our evening program highlighted DEIB leaders, where we heard from Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala, TEKsystems Executive Director of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, Franklin Reed, and ITSMF President and CEO Johanna Jones. All of their remarks encouraged business leaders to challenge their companies to engage in diversifying their workforce and hiring skilled, diverse individuals and the impact doing so has on business. 

Diverse by Design photos

We appreciate our tournament sponsors for helping us host such an impactful event full of rich conversation and meaningful connections and our Diverse by Design sponsors’ support. We especially wanted to extend a special thank you to Akhil Kumar for his guidance throughout our planning and execution of the tournament and the staff at Brae Burn Country Club for their hospitality. We hope the tournament was a launching pad to continue conversations around diversifying the tech landscape and other industries across the country. 

We’ll see you next year on the course!

Per Scholas Learners Featured as STARs with [email protected]’s Tear the Paper Ceiling Campaign

At Per Scholas, we are committed to achieving an equitable and inclusive workforce. As part of this work, we are proud to announce that we are joining forces with [email protected] and the Ad Council to support the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign, a national public service advertising campaign designed to change the narrative around workers’ Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs), rather than a bachelor’s degree, and shatter the myth that no degree means no skills. Every day, STARs face an invisible barrier—the paper ceiling—which unfairly creates obstacles to their economic mobility, even though they have demonstrated skills for higher-wage opportunities.

Many of our graduates are considered STARs, and three of our Per Scholas New York graduates attended the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign launch event on September 21, 2022. The event was held at LinkedIn’s headquarters in the Empire State Building and was a media and corporate C-suite-focused event with a live-streamed panel with corporate leaders, [email protected]’s CEO Byron Auguste, and STARs.

Per Scholas learners and staff at campaign event

We’re excited to work alongside partners like [email protected] as we continue to increase access to tuition-free training and advance careers nationwide. Read the full press release here.

Kenneth Walker Gives a Tour of the Per Scholas Museum

Kenneth Walker, Per Scholas’ Executive Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Culture, recently gave a tour of the Per Scholas museum, located at our Bronx, NY, campus. During the tour, Ken took viewers from Per Scholas’ founding in 1995, through our organization’s growth and valued accomplishments, and finally to our goals for the future. 

Per Scholas was founded in 1995, with the goal of helping to bridge the digital divide in the South Bronx which was, at that time, the poorest congressional district in the nation. In its earliest stages, Per Scholas hired local South Bronx residents to recycle used computers. Computers were either broken down on an assembly line and sold for parts or fixed up and distributed to local schools and families. 

In 1998, realizing the life-changing potential of a tech education, Per Scholas shifted its mission from refurbishing computers to opening doors for tech careers. In the museum tour video, Ken walked viewers through these early days of the organization, using personal anecdotes, pictures, and actual artifacts featured in the museum, to augment his story. 

Ken also covered some of the organization’s accomplishments featured on the museum timeline, such as classes for children and seniors in the early 2000s, breaking ground at Yankee Stadium, ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange in 2009, and the beginning of our expansion beyond the New York City location to cities all across the U.S. in 2012.

Ken discussed some of Per Scholas’ goals for the future and expressed how amazing it has been to see, firsthand, our organization’s incredible growth over the years. He also showed viewers the incredible murals painted on the walls of our Bronx campus, which feature some of our diverse learners. To learn more about our murals, click here.

Watch the full museum tour video here

Per Scholas Partners With Hired to Hold Alumni and Learner Webinar Event

Per Scholas partnered with Hired in August for a webinar for our learners to learn how to employ their potential. This was an enriching opportunity for our learners to connect with business professionals to gain industry knowledge on marketing themselves.  The virtual event lasted for an hour and a half and was a chance to network as well. 

Per Scholas Hired Webinar

More than 200 learners and graduates in Software Engineering, Cybersecurity, and AWS re/Start cohorts attended the Hired and Per Scholas webinar on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, to learn how to employ their potential with Hired, the largest AI-driven global marketplace that matches high-intent tech talent with the world’s most innovative companies. “Being able to develop and enhance relationships with Hired gives our learners and graduates ‘the edge’ as they gain access to an additional network of employers,” reflected Per Scholas Enterprise Account Manager Patrick Kazadi. “It is great to work with partners that are learners-centric.”

This innovative session consisted of a presentation to sign up for Hired and a chance to obtain coding assessment badges with a signup link specific for Per Scholas graduates. This was all followed by a live Q&A with the Hired Partnerships team.

We are proud that so many of our learners and graduates joined this webinar and took the next step toward their tech career opportunities. If you would like to partner with Per Scholas for webinars or professional development opportunities, please contact Miguelina Manriquez at [email protected]! Additionally, if you’d like to sign up as a learner, visit the Hired site!