LaGuardia earns $3.9M grant to help at-risk students learn tech

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LaGuardia Community College has been awarded a $3.9 million federal grant to provide free tech industry training for at-risk and disadvantaged young people, ages 17 to 29. One of just 39 programs in 25 states nationwide—and one of only two in New York City—the grant is part of TechHire, a $150 million White House and US Department of Labor initiative to train interested individuals in coding, software development, systems management, and other in-demand high-tech specialty areas.

The grant awarded to LaGuardia is part of $126 million, included within the $150 million initiative, for programs specifically for low-income, minority or otherwise underserved young people.

“Being selected by the White House and the US Department of Labor for this highly competitive TechHire grant, which reflects our understanding of the fast-evolving needs of the tech industry and our dedication to helping people get out of poverty and into the middle class through education, is very gratifying,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow.

“We congratulate LaGuardia Community College, as well as its partners General Assembly, Udacity, and Software Guild, for winning a prestigious TechHire award and look forward to the great impact this work will have for young New Yorkers,” said Barbara Chang, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. “As a pilot city of President Obama’s TechHire initiative, New York City fully embraces the alignment of tech education with workforce needs and expanding job opportunities through the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline. Yesterday’s announcement is a huge win for New York City and recognizes the commitment that tremendous local institutions are making together with the City’s tech employers to ensure that New Yorkers are well prepared for the 21st century economy.”

The LaGuardia Community College program, known as TechIMPACT, will offer accelerated tech training for more than 300 low-income young adults over the next three years, in partnership with General Assembly, Udacity, and Software Guild, with tools created by industry experts at large tech companies like Google and Facebook. The training will be provided at no cost to participants.

“There are more than 600,000 IT jobs in the US open today, and tech jobs pay one and a half times the average wages of a private-sector job,” said Jake Schwartz, co-founder and CEO of General Assembly. “TechIMPACT is about creating pathways toward a high paying job for a population that has been boxed-out of the tech industry—we are excited for the opportunity help build a more diverse talent pipeline.”

“TechIMPACT could become a national model for unique partnerships that enable higher education institutions to expand the catalog of highly specialized courses they’re able to offer to students,” said Dr. Mellow.

Training will focus on in-demand skills, including web development, Java, and computer network support, informed by the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline through LinkedIn’s first-ever analysis of NYC’s 3.1 million LinkedIn members.

“Our experts will provide training in coding, a skill that’s an integral part of today’s job market. We look forward to helping students who have the drive to succeed but not always the necessary economic support to learn these valuable skills,” said Eric Wise, Chief Academic Officer of The Software Guild.

“The recent TechHire grants are an important and actionable milestone for tech education in the U.S., and we’re pleased to work with LaGuardia Community College to train underserved young adults with the needed, ‘in-demand’ tech skills to help them get a job or advance their career,” said Zhalisa Clarke, Vice President of Business Development at Udacity.

In addition to receiving a foundation in digital and tech literacy, participants will have access to career planning, free MetroCards, child care services, mentors, and other support services to help keep them on track towards completing the program and help them address any life challenges that arise before they result in dropping out.

As well, TechIMPACT will team up with partners to help graduates from these programs find paid internships and jobs. Up to 50 students in need of a transition to employment will be connected with paid internships with participating employers from IBM to small businesses. For longer-term hiring, a multitude of hiring partners have signed on to interview qualified candidates, including IBM, WalMart, Xerox, and others.

“We want to help program graduates secure job opportunities right away so they don’t get discouraged if they don’t find work quickly,” said Dr. Mellow. “We are excited to empower a new tech workforce that will help diversify and strengthen NYC’s Tech Talent Pipeline.”

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