Just-A-Start Corporation, a community development corporation in Cambridge, recently received a $500,000 grant from ECMC Foundation.
The grant supports the first two years of Just-A-Start's new Information Technology Careers Program, a tuition-free, nine-month program that trains under-resourced adults for the skills necessary to begin a sustaining career in the information technology industry.
Funding from ECMC Foundation will support the activities of the IT Careers Program, launched in January 2018, which blends classroom learning of technical skills with on-the-job training. While in the program, students will earn college credits, become certified in CompTIA+ and benefit from comprehensive career counseling that includes post-program support. Modeled after Just-A-Start's Biomedical Careers Program, now in its 26th year, the program features a dual-customer model that benefits both job seekers and local employers by training a well-qualified, diverse and mature workforce of program graduates.
"I am so grateful for ECMC Foundation's outstanding commitment to the IT Careers Program, and I am extremely proud of this great achievement for Just-A-Start," said Deborah Ruhe, executive director of Just-A-Start. "This is the largest private grant Just-A-Start has ever received, and it will allow us to serve an even larger number of under-resourced adults as they work toward their goals of economic stability and career growth."
ECMC Foundation, funded by Minneapolis-based ECMC Group, facilitates improvements that affect educational outcomes, especially among underserved populations, through evidence-based innovation. "We are excited to partner with Just-A-Start to unlock economic opportunity for these students," said Jennifer Zeisler, senior program director of Career Readiness at ECMC Foundation. "The IT Careers Program is rigorous and relevant, and will help underserved adults gain access to skills-based careers with the necessary support to succeed."
In January, 15 adult students began the first class of the IT Careers Program. Classes are taught by a combination of JAS teachers and Bunker Hill Community College instructors. After a semester of classes, students will be placed in internships and be coached for job searches and ongoing employment.
The development of the IT Careers Program was supported by other corporate funders, including JP Morgan Chase, Google and Capital One. "The development of new programs often requires philanthropic support before public sector funding can be secured," Ruhe explained. "The leadership of the private sector is essential to the development of pathways to sustainable careers for low income and immigrant communities."