Per Scholas Signs Vibrant Pittsburgh DEI Pledge
Per Scholas became the first organization to sign the Vibrant Pittsburgh DEI Pledge. Signatory organizations commit to taking collective action to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable Pittsburgh region.
“Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is at Per Scholas’s core. We believe that talent is ubiquitous, but unfortunately, we know opportunity is not. That’s why we’re passionately committed to removing barriers, increasing access, and advancing economic equity through rigorous tech training,” said Plinio Ayala, President and CEO of Per Scholas. “We’re proud to be a signatory of the Vibrant Pittsburgh DEI Pledge and look forward to being a meaningful contributor to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging progress here in Pittsburgh.”
Per Scholas’ Women in Tech Training Update
When first considering a career in technology, Per Scholas Graduate Olga Sannikov always felt discouraged to enter the field. She was always interested in tech but did not pursue it academically because it was not popular for girls to do so at her school. This has been a common sentiment among women wanting to pursue a career in technology, and an area where Per Scholas is actively helping change the narrative and increase access and opportunity for women technologists nationwide.
This month, we began training for our first cohort of women learners enrolled in our inaugural Women in Software Engineering (WISE) pre-apprenticeship program. Hosted by Per Scholas National Capital Region, this course was developed with women in mind and understanding the barriers women face entering the industry. Delivered remotely and on a modified schedule to accommodate household responsibilities, learners have access to evening and weekend office hours, tutoring, mentoring, and career development programming.
Per Scholas was selected as one of five recipients for the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant, presented by U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty J. Walsh.
“For too long, women have faced barriers to gaining entry into apprenticeships and nontraditional careers,” Secretary Walsh said at the grant presentation. This pioneering training offering for women in tech is also made possible with additional investments from Capital One, The Boeing Company, and Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation.
“Capital One is passionate about partnering with organizations that are meeting critical workforce development needs,” said Kerone Vatel, Head of Community Impact and Investment at Capital One. “Per Scholas is closing gaps in equity and opportunity by providing education onramps and support for underrepresented groups, including women, to pursue careers in technology.”
“We have the opportunity to learn so much from our WISE learners,” said Diane Duff, Per Scholas National Capital Region Managing Director. “We’ve received generous support to adjust our already proven model to more effectively address the unique challenges facing women who want to enter the tech industry. I’m thrilled that our first training cohort is underway.”
On International Women’s Day, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners committed to developing the county workforce to meet a growing demand for technology jobs by voting unanimously to approve a more than $4.5 million COVID-19 recovery grant to support the new Tech Women of Color workforce training initiative at our Per Scholas Columbus campus. Additional local supporters of Tech Women of Color include The Columbus Foundation, AT&T, KeyBank, and Bank of America.
“We are grateful to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners for providing us the opportunity to be of service to our community, and to our local partners who will come alongside us as we seek to make a transformative impact in this county,” stated Jenn Fowler Howard, Senior Director of the Tech Women of Color Alliance. “We recognize that this project will not only change the lives of the women who participate but will also build stronger families, communities, and businesses for years to come.”
The first Tech Women of Color cohort will be an IT Fundamentals course and begin this summer. If you’re a Columbus-based business or employer interested in learning more and joining the Tech Women of Color Alliance, led by Per Scholas, please contact Jenn Fowler Howard at [email protected].
We had four women leaders in tech from one of our funders, Capgemini, speak on a panel for Women’s History Month as well. More than 60 women participated, and heard from powerful women leaders on topics including the importance of women in tech leadership roles, working through imposter syndrome, and owning the unique skills that women often possess – empathy, kindness, compassion, and more. We also moderated a quick Q+A session at the end of the event where individuals discussed everything from how to find what you want to specialize in tech-wise to how to balance your life as a wife, mom, and professional.
Per Scholas is grateful to the many funders and supporters who are making intentional investments in women-centric initiatives, including the AT&T; Atalanta Project – Black Family Philanthropies; Bank of America; Boeing; Boone Family Foundation; Capital One; The Columbus Foundation; Franklin County Board of Commissioners; Goldman Sachs; Kate Spade New York Foundation; KeyBank; The Same Sky Foundation Fund, a Division of the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation; S&P Global; TEKsystems; The Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor; and more.
Per Scholas is Expanding Cloud Computing Training with AWS re/Start
Per Scholas’ collaboration with AWS and our ability to offer AWS re/Start, a high-quality cloud computing curriculum, is incredibly powerful. Cloud computing continues to be one of the fastest-growing areas of tech, and we’re proud of the role we’re playing to train diverse technologists in this in-demand skill set.
We started our cloud computing training by offering AWS re/Start at our Greater Boston campus in 2020. The pandemic forced us to quickly pivot what would’ve been an in-person course to be remote instead. AWS’s leadership and guidance as we modified the curriculum were essential. This shift to remote learning had a silver lining and enabled us to enroll learners in our inaugural cohort from our National Capital Region campus, too.
Today, just two years later, Per Scholas is offering AWS re/Start training at 9 campuses nationwide, including at Per Scholas Dallas, Per Scholas Greater Boston, Per Scholas National Capital Region, and Per Scholas New York. We’re working to prepare nearly 400 future technologists in this in-demand skill set in 2022 alone!
Earlier this month, Per Scholas Senior Vice President of Training Quality, Technology, and Innovation Eduardo Hernandez spoke at AWS IMAGINE: NONPROFIT alongside AWS re/Start Program Manager Seghen Simon about our training model.
During the panel, Eduardo highlighted that since we began offering AWS re/Start, nearly 300 cloud computing technologists have graduated, and more than 90 percent earned the prestigious, highly-sought-after AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification. Half have attained jobs, and a third in specific cloud-computing roles at more than 55 companies nationwide.
Per Scholas Baltimore Partners with Train Up
Alongside 16 other organizations, Per Scholas Baltimore recently received a groundbreaking grant from the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (OED) as part of the Train Up initiative. The initiative provides free job training for unemployed and underemployed Baltimore City residents impacted by COVID-19 and is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). It is
Per Scholas Baltimore will enroll 45 Baltimore City residents participants annually in our cost-free tech training, ensure that at least 75 percent of our learners will complete training, and connect at least 80 percent of our graduates into family-sustaining careers paying a minimum of $15 per hour. All participants completing training will obtain at least one industry-recognized credential.
In regard to Train Up, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott stated, “I look forward to working closely with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development as we increase access to opportunity, promote local job growth, support low-income households, benefit historically underinvested neighborhoods and create wealth in Black and Brown communities.”
As Per Scholas Baltimore prepares Baltimore City residents for careers in technology, a high-growth industry, we will also provide our learners with career coaching and business and professional development. Upcoming courses offered at our campus in Little Italy can be found here.
“We are grateful for the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development’s investment in Per Scholas Baltimore, which will enable us to continue to serve Baltimore City residents with no-cost technical training,” stated Per Scholas Baltimore Managing Director Jessica Diaz Council. “We are actively trying to change the face of the tech workforce nationally, but also locally. If you are a company that serves the people of Baltimore, then you should be employing local talent. We’re committed to increasing access and creating opportunities for individuals who aspire to work in tech because we truly believe that the right career changes everything. The Train Up program will allow us to do just that.”
To learn more about the Train Up program from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, click here.
How Per Scholas and MDRC Use Lived Experiences for Admissions Process
In this brief from MDRC, a company committed to finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation, it is shown that investigating lived experiences for data is crucial for Per Scholas’s admissions process.
As the brief states, “People with lived expertise can include individuals or families enrolled in or eligible for a program of interest, service practitioners who work directly with these individuals and families, and community leaders. Such people have a wealth of knowledge about the social issues and programs that are studied, derived from their own experiences.”
Learn how Per Scholas has worked closely with MDRC research to provide a better admissions process experience to drive more completed applications in this brief and read the full document.
Per Scholas Celebrates Black History Month
During Black History Month, Per Scholas has been proud to engage in various internal and external activities to communicate the importance of Black individuals in the tech workplace. Keeping the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s (ASALH) theme of Black Health and Wellness in mind, we focused on wellness throughout our Black History Month celebrations and meetings and resurfaced some key conversations from our Diverse by Design podcast.
Throughout the month, we shared stories of some of our Black learners on our social media pages, highlighting their experience as Black individuals in an industry they’ve previously been underrepresented. Namely, we resurfaced the story of Per Scholas National Capital Region graduate Serge Mavuba. Serge, an AWS re/Start graduate, had some challenges throughout his training that he opened up about with us in a candid interview. He discussed how mental health is not typically discussed in his culture, especially as a Black man. Serge reflected, “mental health wasn’t discussed in my culture; it was taboo. I didn’t know what I needed, but with the Learner Support Team, I was able to recognize my triggers and implement ways to redirect my emotions to push through the day.” He was able to help himself by seeking help and sharing his thoughts with others, one of the ways to address mental health. By sharing his story, he gave Black individuals an opportunity to start the conversation on wellness in the Black community.
Internally, Per Scholas shared different experiences from our team and hosted a virtual lunch centered around mental health and wellness. Kiva Harper, LCSW-S joined us to discuss mental health, wellness tips, and how to be more compassionate towards others. Her insight helped open up the conversation for our team on wellness and mental health for Black individuals.
Lastly, we resurfaced some of our Diverse by Design Podcast episodes featuring Black leaders to showcase their stories and experiences. Franklin Reed, Chair of Diverse by Design’s National Advisory Board and Executive Director of Inclusion and Diversity at TEKsystems, walked through the mechanics of operationalizing diversity and inclusion within an organization in his featured podcast. Another podcast we shared again was that of Shawn Harris, Success Engineer at Cypress.io, where she reflected on her experience as a recent cancer survivor, Black woman, and proud member of the LGBTQ+ family. Listen as she thinks back on her experience with inclusion and belonging in tech.
We are honored that we were able to further explore and celebrate the stories and experiences of our learners, staff, and partners this Black History Month as we continue to highlight diversity in our organization.
Per Scholas Graduates Over 250 Learners in 2022
It has already been a busy year of graduations at Per Scholas, with multiple graduations from IT Support, AWS re/Start, Cybersecurity, and Software Engineering courses coming to a close and many more coming up. As we look to train 4,000 learners in 2022, we are well on our way with astonishing numbers from our skilled and qualified graduates. So far, Per Scholas has graduated more than 250 learners, with over 150 graduates acquiring tech certifications.
“The tenacity and commitment of Per Scholas learners is inspiring, and I’m thrilled for our graduates as they embark on transformational tech careers,” said Jasmine Miller, who was recently promoted to Per Scholas’s Chief Training Officer.
Notably, our remote training cohorts had learners from New York, Cincinnati, Denver, Greater Boston, and the National Capital Region successfully graduate from our AWS re/Start course. Chubb Executive Vice President and Digital Transformation Officer Julie Dillman joined as graduation speaker. This graduating cohort hosted over 70 graduates with an average certification rate of over 94%!
Additionally, we graduated our first two cohorts as part of our satellite partnership. With over 30 graduates from our innovative satellite training program, we are well on our way to training 1,000 New Yorkers this year. In this partnership, Per Scholas is teaming up with Commonpoint Queens and with the JCC of Staten Island as Satellite partners in order to offer these trainings in Queens and Staten Island respectively. Commonpoint Queens hosted the course at its Elmhurst Employment Hub and JCC of Staten Island at its Bernikow Headquarters.
In another Remote Training graduation, with learners from our National Capital Region, Denver, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, and North Carolina campuses, over 100 graduates completed their IT Support training to launch their thriving tech careers. Eugene Jones, Director of ITS at Comcast, spoke as a keynote speaker, encouraging graduates to always keep learning – in tech and in life.
With support from our funders, brilliant and empowering Instructors, and a strong Learner Support Team, our learners are sure to excel in their next endeavors as they launch their IT careers. We are eager to see how the year continues on with such a successful start as we connect individuals who have a passion for technology with thriving technology careers.
Per Scholas Recognized as a Training Program Which Builds a More Equitable Colorado Economy
In Roger Low’s opinion piece, Support Job-Training Programs that Actually Put People in Better-Paying Jobs, Per Scholas is recognized as a local training program that does just that. This commentary in the Colorado Sun highlights the story of a graduate from Denver who participated in ActivateWork Powered by Per Scholas.
Low pens, “Per Scholas is effective because it bridges our skills gap. Colorado’s IT sector, 77 percent white, has 30,000 unfilled cybersecurity and coding jobs, with an average salary of more than $100,000.” These are facts that show that there is still work to do to bring economic equity to Denver.
Per Scholas Phoenix Managing Director Jaclyn Boyes Featured in Voyage Phoenix
This month, Voyage Phoenix interviewed Jaclyn Boyes as she discussed her past experience and Per Scholas Phoenix in its inaugural year in the community. Coming from a background in leadership and nonprofit work, Jaclyn mentioned her past experience was a great foundation for her role as Per Scholas Phoenix’s Managing Director.
“Our goal is to prepare overlooked talent – Black, Brown, and female talent in particular – who are unemployed or underemployed for successful careers that serve as an on-ramp for middle-class, well-paid jobs,” Jaclyn reflected. “The types of jobs that allow people to buy homes and begin to create wealth. The types of jobs that change the trajectory of individuals and families for generations.”
Building on this inaugural year for Per Scholas Phoenix, Jaclyn plans to diversify the tech industry with our cost-free tech training to grow with the demand for tech jobs in the Southwest community.
Per Scholas Featured in NYCETC 2021 Impact Report
New York City Employment and Training Coalition released their 2021 Impact Report showing how they are advancing talent and equity toward a thriving economy. Per Scholas was featured to show how our Brooklyn Campus and Satellite classroom at Commonpoint Queens is creating innovative training and career advancement opportunities for New Yorkers.
Per Scholas is a member and funder of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC) and Per Scholas New York Managing Director Abe Mendez is a Chair of a Board Committee on the Board of Directors.
To read the full impact report, click here.