Internet-based technologies have transformed and democratized education. Online learning removed a crucial barrier to education and made the knowledge and skills needed to compete in today’s workforce more accessible. As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s look at how these innovations have opened doors for communities of color and learn about how one Network:On partner, Per Scholas, has led the way toward a more inclusive future!
Per Scholas is a national IT workforce development nonprofit that works in 19 cities, serving more than 4,000 Americans each year. At our Creating Connections Conference last October, Per Scholas Founder and CEO Plinio Ayala explained that his company was “founded on the concept of equity. We realized back then that there was tremendous power in technology to move Black and Brown communities ahead.”
With this commitment towards equity, Per Scholas faced an early challenge: many people who were interested in and would benefit from its training couldn’t get over to their classroom in the Bronx. To address this issue, Per Scholas began offering remote training. Ayala described how “remote training eliminated a lot of those transportation issues … People that lived in Staten Island that were just not going to travel to the Bronx now were taking classes remotely.” This change also enabled the organization to open the door to others. For example, Ayala said Per Scholas “had an increase in the number of women that were participating in our training program because they had built-in childcare. They were taking the course at home and able to take care of their children from home.”
Per Scholas is an example of how remote education can make opportunities available to everyone. Today, it has trained over 17,000 graduates that have launched successful careers in tech, with 85 percent of graduates being people of color. This effort was made possible by America’s Excellent Internet. Ayala credits broadband as “an incredible tool” that has allowed his students to “take advantage of these opportunities.”