Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania and Per Scholas Launch Program to Connect Underrepresented Individuals to the Growing IT Field
Henry L. Hillman Foundation awards more than $540,000 to kickoff the two-year initiative
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (7-27-22)- Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA), provider of education, recreation and healthy lifestyles programs for individuals ages 3-24, and Per Scholas, a tech training nonprofit, announced a new collaboration to connect underrepresented individuals to information technology (IT) careers, eliminate barriers to employment in this growing field, and enable learners from diverse backgrounds to pursue living wage careers in the Pittsburgh region. This workforce development initiative is generously funded by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation with its largest gift to BGCWPA in decades.
This model was successfully executed in New York City, making Pittsburgh the second city and BGCWPA the second Boys & Girls Clubs unit nationwide to offer the opportunity to young adults interested in tech careers. Pittsburgh is home to a rapidly growing ecosystem of tech employers that offers transformative potential for residents of the region. By eliminating barriers, such as the cost of training, and offering added support, mentorship, and career coaching in a trusted environment, the two organizations are seeking to attract a more diverse tech workforce in the jobs that exist in Pittsburgh.
Since its founding in 1888, BGCWPA has grown to become one of the most comprehensive providers of out-of-school-time services in the region, trusted by thousands of youth and families in many of Pittsburgh’s highest need communities. 70% of BGCWPA’s young adults identify as Black Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), 65% reside in single-parent households, and 70% learn in struggling schools, as defined by the PA Department of Education. Only the second such program in the country and modeled after a similar collaboration in New York City, this partnership will link individuals from diverse backgrounds who are served by BGCWPA directly to Per Scholas’ training programs and proven record of job placement with emerging employers.
“We are thrilled to announce this exciting workforce readiness partnership. Our Career Works workforce readiness program has connected hundreds of young adults to internships, evidence-based programs, and the mentorship they need for a strong future,” said Melissa Fuller, Vice President of Operations, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. “Our partnership with Per Scholas will build bridges to quite literally change the face of Pittsburgh’s technology-focused economy. We are grateful to Per Scholas for their commitment and to Henry L. Hillman Foundation for their generous support of this initiative, representing their largest grant to our organization in decades.”
First, BGCWPA and Per Scholas will co-teach a four-week bridge program, composed of 15 learners over 18 years of age who may not yet be ready to move onto Per Scholas’ IT training program. Hosted within BGCWPA Clubhouses, the bridge program will run every weekday for four weeks from August 29-September 23. Participants will earn a $1,200 stipend during the bridge program. This bridge program will offer academic enrichment, power skill development, and introduction to technical skills to prepare learners for Per Scholas’ intensive IT training program. This portion of the program will also offer individualized support and mentorship, which will also continue on for two weeks into the next phase of the initiative, so that students are prepared to succeed in the training and in their future roles.
Upon completion of the bridge program, students will then be prepared to enter and succeed in the next step – Per Scholas’ 12-week, no-cost IT certification program. The program offers the opportunity for participants to earn industry-recognized credentials, including Google IT Support Professional Certification and the COMP TIA A+ Certification. Throughout the program, the BGCWPA and Per Scholas staff who led the bridge program will continue to provide individualized mentorship to learners, offering a continuum of support for the participants. After the conclusion of Per Scholas’ IT certification program, graduates will be connected directly to employers. Nationally, Per Scholas has placed 80% of alumni into employment, and these individuals earn a median salary of $42,000.
“There is an incredible amount of opportunity in Pittsburgh right now for individuals aspiring to join the tech workforce,” said Todd Derby, Managing Director of Per Scholas Pittsburgh. “At Per Scholas, we provide the necessary training to ensure that diverse and resilient Pittsburgh area residents can get access to digital careers and take advantage of thriving wage opportunities.”
Individuals interested in applying can visit https://perscholas.org/courses/it-support/it-support-pittsburgh/. Additional cohorts of the bridge program, co-led by BGCWPA and Per Scholas, and Per Scholas’ 12-week IT training program will be offered throughout 2023 and 2024.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA)
Since 1888, BGCWPA has served youth throughout Western Pennsylvania. Consisting of 12 Clubhouse locations and more than a dozen partner sites in Allegheny and Somerset Counties, two stand-alone workforce development locations and three Great Futures Preschool sites, BGCWPA serves thousands of youth annually. BGCWPA, one of the largest and most comprehensive providers of before- and after-school and summer day camp programming in the region, is a licensed childcare provider, and offers scholarships to families in need. Programming includes academic literacy, STEM enrichment, sports and recreational activities and mentoring. Additionally, BGCWPA serves young adults ages 14-24 through workforce development programming. Learn more at www.bgcwpa.org.
About Per Scholas
Per Scholas is a national organization that has been advancing economic mobility for more than 25 years. Through rigorous training, professional development, and robust employer connections, Per Scholas prepares individuals traditionally underrepresented in technology for high-growth careers in the industry. Per Scholas partners 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 18 cities, Per Scholas has trained more than 16,000 individuals in tech skills, building bridges to careers in technology. To learn more, visit PerScholas.org and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
About Henry L. Hillman Foundation
Henry L. Hillman Foundation works to ensure that Pittsburgh’s considerable strengths, assets, and advantages are fully leveraged to make it one of the world’s most innovative and forward-looking cities, building on the late Henry L. Hillman’s legacy for solving big problems through civic leadership and collaboration. Learn more at www.henrylhillmanfoundation.org.