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Per Scholas story

Recently, NAVEX connected with Michael Terrell, Senior Managing Director and Edwin Harris II, Manager, Business Solutions, to talk about Per Scholas and their impact.    

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Per Scholas originated more than 30 years ago in the Bronx as a nonprofit supporting computer refurbishment. The organization worked to bring in folks from the community and train them to replace parts on donated computers. Through this process, the organization was putting these much-needed items back into the community, donating to places such as other nonprofits, libraries, and schools. Then, Per Scholas quickly realized the folks they were training were getting poached by tech companies. This was a lightbulb moment for them to pivot and become a training organization – now, they operate in 23 cities. 

Over the years, Per Scholas has done fantastic work in serving its community, but what are their goals, you may be asking yourself? Per Scholas aims to create recruitment partnerships within the neighborhoods and provide a pathway for folks who have struggled to enter the technology industry or need access to an option to have high-wage and high-growth careers. The team works with students to ensure they have a thriving wage two years post-graduation. No matter their current living situation or career status, the goal of Per Scholas is to support individuals in saving money and start building wealth. 

Juneteenth for me is a celebration. It’s particularly impactful within the African American culture, but a national celebration of freedom that comes with that. So, in context to Per Scholas, given the fact that we work with a lot of minority organizers, populations, I think it’s just another holiday to remember some of the struggles, but also take a chance to celebrate the overcoming of said struggles within our society and economy, ensuring history and traditions are never lost. - Edwin Harris II, Business Solutions, Per Scholas 

Economic impact

While tech continues to be a growing industry, there are still gaps in the range of diversity due to the lack of accessibility to tech education. For example, a small number of Black women work in sales roles, while white males make up most of the tech industry roles. Per Scholas exists to create a tech workforce that is as diverse as the customers it serves from entry-level roles in IT support and cybersecurity, all the way up to top leadership roles like CIOs and CTOs. By filling these gaps, Per Scholas creates a path of representation and diversity, and ensures voices are heard and communities are better-served and provided career opportunities in tech.   

Providing accessibility stems from tech education, digital equity and finding ways to care for and support the whole person, which Per Scholas does a fantastic job of. Per Scholas partners with organizations like the Center for Digital Equity and E2D Eliminate the Digital Divide in Charlotte to fill gaps and ensure accessibility to things like broadband, cellphones, laptops and digital literacy training.  

Through these partnerships, Per Scholas is thriving; 70% of their learners and graduates range from 33 to 60 years of age, and graduates from at least two years have thriving wages; they also provide social workers and financial coaches that support outside tech needs.     

Group of five college students looking at a laptop.

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Making an impact

Getting into the tech industry can sometimes feel unattainable. Whether there is a lack of belief in oneself or even experiencing imposter syndrome, one thing Per Scholas gets right is building solid connections. Having supporters with a consistent presence in the lives of the learners and working with them on company overviews, mock interviews, seeing a friendly face at graduation, or even donations to keep the program free for learners all work together to support the Per Scholas mission and help learners thrive.  

We would like to extend a special thanks to Per Scholas for their work in the community. Also, thank you to our contributors, Tyler Epps, Talent Brand Ambassador, NAVEX, Edwin Harris II, Manager, Business Solutions, Per Scholas and Michael Terrell, Senior Managing Director, Per Scholas. 
If you would like to learn more about the Per Scholas organization, please click here:   

About Per Scholas - Mission: Tuituin-free IT Training