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Free coding programs enrolling with $2M CARES Act funds

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Funding from the federal CARES Act will pay for free training for scores of Delawareans until the end of 2020. | PHOTO COURTESY OF TECHIMPACT

WILMINGTON – Dozens of Delawareans are beginning a new future through free job training opportunities in the tech industry made possible through a federally funded program.

Gov. John Carney’s rapid workforce training and redeployment training initiative, known as Forward Delaware, has designated $10 million toward Delaware’s top five growth industries: IT, health care, transportation, logistics and construction. The money, split evenly amid the industries, comes from funds allocated to the state via Congress’ CARES Act passed in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leading the effort for the IT sector is TechImpact, which was founded about 16 years ago to provide IT support to nonprofits around the country and earlier this year began serving as a clearinghouse for Delawareans seeking a career in IT. TechImpact is serving as an intermediary for Forward Delaware, disbursing program funds to programs that are enrolling students for training courses, explained Patrick Callihan, the organization’s executive director.

While TechImpact’s own IT Works program as well as the well-known Zip Code Wilmington program are enrolling students, the initiative is also reaching out to new partners. Wilmington-based Code Differently, an experiential learning program and coding boot camp that introduces students in underrepresented communities to computer science and industry practices through hands-on practical instruction, will be training at least 50 people with the grant funding, Callihan said.

“We wanted as many underrepresented folks in technology to have an opportunity to receive this free training,” he added.

Stephanie Eldridge, CEO of Code Differently, noted that research shows that diversity benefits innovation, but the sector has been slow to hire and develop talent from underrepresented communities.

“We focus on increasing diversity in technology. The Forward Delaware initiative will allow us to remove barriers associated with technology career awareness, access, and education by providing flexible training schedules, technology equipment, and a community of instructors and supporters. Looking forward to early 2021, we hope to see an immediate increase in underrepresented people in technology being employed in our local market,” she said in a statement.

Also participating in the Forward Delaware program is Philadelphia-based Tech Elevator, which offers an all-online coding boot camp that Delawareans will be able to utilize, and The Precisionists, which creates job opportunities for those with disabilities.

“We’re not only realigning workers with that training, we’re also providing some wraparound services, like interviewing skills and resume development,” Callihan said. “We’re positioning them for careers in technology, not just getting them access to the training.”

Callihan noted that the Forward Delaware funds come with the stipulation that the money is spent by Dec. 31 – a deadline set under the federal stimulus bill that allocated the funds to states – and that training is completed by March.

Callihan said that he is “seeing a pretty good demand” in the first few weeks of the program.

“We’re seeing scores of applicants each day coming in through Tech Hire Delaware, so we’re working to place them into programs as fast as we can,” he said. It’s a really unique opportunity for the citizens of Delaware who are interested in pursuing a new career in technology to be able to go through these really highly regarded programs at no cost.”

To learn more about how to enroll in a program under the initiative, visit techhiredelaware.org.

By Jacob Owens


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