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Columbus nonprofit provides equity through information technology

Tech nonprofit, Per Scholas, offers an opportunity for people to have better careers who may not have had one. Now, a grant will help with their outreach.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Non-profits often try to make a positive impact on their respective community. Some work toward equity and a level playing field for those in marginalized or under-served communities.

That’s the mission of Per Scholas.

“This is an IT training organization and workforce developer organization. And we're really about equity and making sure that we are providing people with the opportunity to continue their careers within the IT industry,” says Noah Mitchell, Managing Director at Per Scholas.

Per Scholas offers free 15-week courses in information technology. IT is a field that can offer many paths including software engineering and cybersecurity. Mitchell says that gives people more power over their career and financial situation.

“It doesn't hurt that that is also good-paying jobs as well, which is kind of different from that as well. But ownership is really the key.”

And that’s what hooked Jada Cox, a 40-year-old Columbus mother who thought she’d hit a dead end when she lost her customer service job during the pandemic.

“I have two little boys, so I need to do something, I need to get something, I need to find something,” says Cox. “So, I just went for it and went start the process off.”

Many women in Columbus, like Cox, are looking for their next move. Per Scholas is now expanding its outreach to women with the help of a $200,000 grant. The Neighborhood Builders program from Bank of America aims to do. It’s one of the company’s longest-running philanthropic programs.

“Part of what we do with Neighborhood Builders and the grant is, one part of it is unrestricted funding,” says Kelly D’Ambrosia, president of Bank of America Columbus. “The second part is really developing their leaders within the organization. I don’t know how many grants that are out there provide that professional development, so it’s a little unique.

The Per Scholas team hopes that reaching out to more women, specifically women of color, will lead to a shake-up in a white-male-dominated field. In a recent study by Statista, 73% of IT professionals are men, while only 23% are women. That gap becomes even wider when we factor in race. 61% of IT professionals are white, 14.3% are Hispanic, 11.1% are Asian, and only

10.2% are Black. Managing Director Mitchell wants women interested in IT to know the field can provide a career path full of options.

“If you if you can really get into the field, you can be a software engineer, or you can you know, do cybersecurity, you really get to take control of your career and in even within those different sects within it,” says Mitchell. “There's so many different pathways and so the difference present day is that this really gives individuals ownership of their career paths and there's just so many options.”

These options are new Jada Cox who is now a Per Scholas success story. Cox just started a new IT career with Columbus-based Nationwide. She says she doesn’t think she would be where she is now without Per Scholas.

"I just feel like this was a good move for me. I'm happy about the move I've made. I'm excited for the future that it holds. I don't think I would be here or in this place if I hadn't answered that text message.”

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