Per Scholas is a United States-registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit social venture committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by creating technology education, training and career opportunities for low-income individuals. Its flagship initiative is a free, multi-week, immersive IT job training course, which has helped over 4,500 low-income and unemployed individuals, more than 90% from racial and ethnic minority communities, gain skills and establish new careers in information technology since 1998.
Per Scholas was founded and is headquartered in South Bronx, New York City, the nation’s poorest Congressional District. It also operates a tech training lab for students in downtown Brooklyn. In October 2012, with inaugural support from JPMorgan Chase and the Creating IT Futures Foundation (CompTIA’s philanthropic arm), Per Scholas launched a second training location in Columbus, Ohio, serving 80 individuals a year. In August 2013, Per Scholas opened its third operation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and fourth in Silver Spring, Maryland in March 2014 serving the National Capital Region. Two sites will be added each calendar year up to eight full operations.
Its self-described mission is to "[break] the cycle of poverty by providing technology education, access, and job training for individuals and families in low-income communities."
Computer distribution and recycling
Per Scholas collects and refurbishes computers that are donated by corporations, nonprofit organizations and individuals. These refurbished computers are distributed to students, seniors and low-income families for free or at significantly below market price. Per Scholas’s Comp2Kids programs integrates its distribution program with computer training for children and families. On the contrary, Comp2Seniors is the distribution and training program serving older populations.
Through a dedicated facility in the South Bronx, Per Scholas provides full-service technology recycling services. With a capacity of 250,000 units per year, its facility serves institutions, municipalities and corporations throughout the New York region. These operations generated over $1 million in revenue in 2011 for the support of other Per Scholas programs.
IT training programs
Per Scholas offers a targeted range of free professional IT training courses from its operations that vary based on local market demands. Each Per Scholas program, regardless of its location, combines three essential components in its free services: high quality, hands-on technical skills training led by certified and experienced instructors; extensive job skills instruction; and individualized support for job placement, as well as personal and career advancement.
The success of the Per Scholas training programs (relative to earlier workforce development programs) is attributed in large part to its understanding of the industries its students will enter. The organization works in close partnership with many prominent corporations, its instructors are experienced experts in the field, and its leadership consists of leading professionals in the IT field. Training is also structured to fill specific demands in the labor force.
A key objective of the program is the development of a strategic career pathway model that leads to the creation of “new” middle skilled workers. Per Scholas’ outcomes — proven in a five-year, randomized and controlled study undertaken by Public/Private Ventures with funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation — are dramatically better than those arising from generic workforce development efforts, or even from community colleges and technical schools. Unlike in a large majority of students at the latter institutions, 85% of Per Scholas students graduate, and an equal percentage of graduates demonstrate their learning by earning industry-recognized IT professional certifications. Further, Per Scholas supports its graduates after their placements, with a program of continued training, career advancement coaching, financial planning services, and other support services.
The programs are funded by a diverse makeup of partners, who range diversely from the world’s leading corporations and foundations, to numerous public agencies, elected officials and other valued stakeholders.
Additional IT Courses
New York: In addition to the standard IT-Ready training, New York offerings have been expanded to include a Women in Technology track, an 18-week A+ & CCNA Training (Project SCALE), and a Software Testing Education Program (STEP).
Urban Development Center
In August 2013, Per Scholas launched the Software Testing Education Program (STEP)—an 8-week training that prepares graduates to fill entry-level software testing roles. While developing this program, Per Scholas was given the opportunity to partner with software consulting company Doran Jones to create the Urban Development Center, a software testing center built adjacent Per Scholas' Bronx location to employ graduates in the software testing field. Doran Jones will provide software testing services for multiple clients, employing 150 Per Scholas STEP graduates within 18 months of opening the UDC doors.
In 2012, Per Scholas was named one of America's top-performing nonprofit organizations by the Social Impact Exchange S&100 Index for its impressive outcomes and results-driven work.
The Per Scholas board of directors includes several prominent professionals in the IT field. Current Chairman Lewis E. Miller is the president of Qvidian, a provider of cloud-computing applications, and was previously CEO of Synergistics and The Future Now, Inc.
Founder and Chairman Emeritus current John Hoyt Stookey was chairman, president and CEO of Quantum through 1993, and has held positions on various boards since retiring in 1995.
CEO and President Plinio Ayala was previously director of program operations at SOBRO. In 2006 he received the Liberty Award from the New York Post for his work in the NYC community and in 2005 was issued a Citation of Merit by the Bronx Borough President.
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