“There are a lot of people who helped make this possible,” said current Per Scholas student Brandon Kinney as he looked around in awe at the 70 plus guests at the Per Scholas Dallas grand opening held today, June 18.
Brandon and his fellow classmates greeted guests upon arrival and provided tours of the new Per Scholas space. Everyone who has been invested in Per Scholas Dallas since the beginning joined the celebration – CitySquare, Capital One, TEKSystems, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Workday, the Women of Saint Michael’s, the Boone Family Foundation, Barclays, JPMorgan Chase -- the list goes on from many in the philanthropic sector, tech sector, finance, and fellow community nonprofits. The opening of Per Scholas Dallas was a collective effort.
Dallas is the fifth and newest Per Scholas location to open. The first class graduated four weeks ago and the second is currently in session. Among those first graduates, already 50 percent are working following training at an average starting salary of $38,000 -- higher than the national $30,000 starting average. In the months ahead, a total of 80 individuals will be trained in Dallas in its first year, 700 through Per Scholas nationwide.
“These are good jobs. Good careers that lift people up and get them on their way to a better life,” said Billy Lane, Managing Director of Per Scholas Dallas. The selection of Dallas was a result of an extensive feasibility study conducted by Per Scholas. Technology positions, for which professional training and credentials are essential, are plentiful and growing. Dallas-Fort Worth ranksnear the top for high-tech growth with an estimated 142,000 high-tech jobs in the area, a 3% increase from last year, and third highest in the nation. At the same time, 36% of households live in asset poverty and 66% of adults lack post-secondary credentials in Dallas (CFED,Opportunity Index).
“You do not help the community by acting alone,” Dr. John Siburt, President and Chief Operating Officer of CitySquare, said in his remarks. “We do it together.” CitySquare recruited Per Scholas to open its operation in CitySquare’s South Dallas Opportunity Center where several community service providers reside – a multi-service center to fight poverty and create opportunity for Dallas residents.
“If I was an IT manager, I would leave here hiring every last one of the students I have met today. You can tell immediately upon meeting them -- they are ready to work,” Kent Eastman, President of Texas Capital One, said in his speech. Capital One is an anchor funder that aided in the opening of Per Scholas in Dallas.
Councilwoman-Elect Tiffinni Young and Montreece Smith of CA Technologies also spoke, each expressing similar enthusiasm to build community, strengthen the local workforce and economy, and empower every single Per Scholas student toward a path of success. Appropriately following the remarks of these champion supporters was Per Scholas graduate Joe Anderson of the inaugural Dallas class.
“Before I found Per Scholas, my professional life consisted of a bunch of odd jobs. I worked security, drove trucks for a few years. Just jobs. Jobs to make money, jobs to pay the bills. I was just there, but not particularly happy. I am excited to share today that I’ve completed 4 really intensive interviews with the company Alvarez and Marsal and I am waiting to hear final word from them -- hopefully with an offer,” Joe shared.
Per Scholas provides Joe and others like him free high quality hands-on technical skills learning and professional soft skills development. The course teaches to the CompTIA A+ certification, which prepares candidates for entry-level help desk and technical support roles. The Per Scholas model has been proven successful through independent studies, triggering growth into new markets like Dallas.
Per Scholas extends its deepest thanks to the guest speakers and the South Dallas community for a very warm welcome. We look forward to engaging with local partners and employers. The takeaway message from Managing Director Billy Lane of Per Scholas Dallas is clear: “Hire our graduates. And if you can’t, then introduce Per Scholas to a person who can.”
Many partners contributed to support the opening of Per Scholas Dallas. Special thanks: AdvanceNet Labs, Aerotek, Allegis Group Foundation, AT&T, Barclays, Boone Family Foundation, Capital One, CA Technologies, Commit!, Communities Foundation of Texas, Council Members Dwaine Caraway, Carolyn Davis, and Adam Medrano, Creating IT Futures Foundation, CRGT, CynergisTek, Dallas Regional Chamber, Dallas Women’s Foundation, D/FW Airport, The Family Place, Habitat for Humanity, Improving Enterprises, Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, Jewish Family Services, JPMorgan Chase, KForce, Matthews Southwest, The Offices of Mayor Mike Rawlings, Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, The Meadows Foundation, Metroplex Tech Business Council, Neuberger Berman, Nexus, NPower, Open Systems Technologies, Palter Stokley Sims Wright, Reliance Methods, Revitalize South Dallas Coalition, Social Impact Architects, Social Venture Partners Dallas, Staff One HR, TEKsystems, Thomson Family Foundation, Time Warner Cable, TREC Dallas, Twist Solutions, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Urban League of Greater Dallas & N.C. Texas, UT Dallas, Virtusa, Wai-Wize, Women of Saint Michael’s, Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas, Workday, Worksoft, and YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas.
About Per Scholas
Per Scholas is a national nonprofit organization offering free, high quality technology education, job training, placement and career development opportunities to people in underserved communities. Since 1998, more than 5,000 unemployed and underemployed adults (18+ years old) have enrolled in its job training programs. For more information, visit http://perscholas.org/perscholas.org, Twitter @PerScholas and Facebook.