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Grant to support young Delawareans seeking tech careers

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A new grant from Bank of America to the Tech Council of Delaware will support 100 students attending the Milken Center to learn about tech.

A new grant from Bank of America will hire a professional coach who will work with teens while they learn about tech careers in the virtual Milken Center academy. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

One hundred Delaware students will soon have an opportunity to reach their tech career goals thanks to a $25,000 Bank of America grant given to the Tech Council of Delaware.

Delawareans from across the state between the ages of 18 and 24 who meet eligibility criteria will be invited to apply to attend the virtual Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream Academy to expand their knowledge and skills in pursuit of a tech career. The grant funding will underwrite a professional coach tasked with helping 100 students participating in the program as they navigate the six months of self-guided online learning through weekly coaching sessions. The academy itself is free to participants.

Zakiyyah Ali Tech Council of Delaware

Zakiyyah Ali, the executive director of Tech Council of Delaware, noted how the rising wages in tech can be life-changing for many. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Applications will be open after the Fourth of July holiday and the coursework will begin in mid-September, Tech Council Executive Director Zakiyyah Ali told Delaware Business Times. The idea is to attract diverse, unemployed or underemployed people interested in launching their own tech careers and increasing their income. As the Milken Center says, she noted, “the American Dream can still be a reality” especially if people are given the tools to succeed before they start families or take on mortgages or other large economic responsibilities.

The eligibility requirements will be thoroughly outlined in the application as well as during a virtual information session slated for mid-June. She said the professional coach will also identify about 30 of those 100 students who are closer to attaining employment and provide them with additional services to help them launch their careers.

The online training not only offers 14 different types of technology or tech-related training courses, but also teaches the professional or “soft” skills that employers are looking for, such as strong communication abilities. The career coach working with the Tech Council will help the students take advantage of the credential they’ll earn at the end of the coursework, which can serve as a “stepping stone to their next career move” and demonstrates to employers that they’re able to learn new skills, Ali said.

Ultimately, the students will receive an “American Dream Academy credential,” which Tech Council representatives said will “improve their chances of qualifying for entry-level tech positions, thereby increasing their economic mobility.” 

In addition, the students will be given insight into which tech tracks might be most successful. For example, students interested in the information and cybersecurity sector will learn through the initiative that their field of interest is projected to grow about 12% by 2027, creating about 430 new jobs in Delaware alone, Ali said. By providing information on the forecasted growth in some industries, she said, the Delawareans enrolled can make an informed decision for themselves.

The Tech Council of Delaware is a nonprofit organization based in Wilmington that aims to connect people interested in careers in the tech industry with the tools and businesses needed to succeed. The academy is supported by the Milken Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank focused on “accelerating measurable progress on the path to a meaningful life” that is opening its physical space in Washington, D.C., in 2024.

When the application is available, it will be posted online at techcouncilofdelaware.org. For questions or more information, email info@techcouncilofdelaware.org.

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