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Nonprofit helping people of color land high-paying tech jobs

Stacy M. Brown | 7/24/2020, 4:52 p.m.
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NPower is a nonprofit that creates pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. NPower is recruiting Baltimore residents for its next remote learning semester that begins in September. (Above) NPower Executive Director Kendra Parlock Courtesy Photo

African Americans in Baltimore have suffered as much as anyone because of the coronavirus pandemic. To add to all the other stressors, many haven’t been able to work remotely.

One local nonprofit is bringing hope to Baltimore, by providing free training in coding and tech fundamentals, helping them launch careers in technology.

NPower, a nonprofit that creates pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities, continues to recruit Baltimore residents for its next remote learning semester that begins in September.

The organization noted that nearly 90 percent of NPower graduates had found full-time employment after completing a six-month program.

Kendra Parlock, NPower’s executive director, said young adults, minorities, and women of color can apply for these tech training programs that have led to jobs with companies like Amazon, Under Armour, and the Department of Defense— helping to turn their lives around in less than a year.

There’s a lot of training and a whole list of programs where we match students with mentors who provide professional development. Also, people can graduate and receive top pay,” Parlock said, adding that NPower, is funded by corporations, grants, and foundations who are trying to bring more diversity to technology. “Students don’t pay for anything, and are placed in paid internships for training.”

Students who enter NPower” s free, six-month program, earn industry-recognized certifications and graduate with the competencies of an IT professional with one to two years of experience.

NPower also places students in paid internships with corporate and nonprofit organizations. About 90 percent of NPower graduates get a full-time job or continue their education.

“Not only are we changing life trajectories for individuals from vulnerable communities, but we are also strengthening the overall competitiveness of U.S. businesses hamstrung by today’s limited pool of IT talent,” added Parlock, who has more than 20 years of experience helping businesses rebuild and expand.

NPower’s mission to bring more diversity to the tech industry by empowering and offering men and women of color, the opportunities, and resources to succeed was boosted in 2018.

That’s when Citi Foundation awarded NPower a $1.64 million, two-year grant in 2018 to increase enrollment of young women of color in their training program to 40 percent by the year 2022 and to increase the onboarding for women of color to their instructional team to 40 percent. The “40 by 22 Initiative” was an intentional effort to deploy new strategies and share best practices on attracting and preparing women of color for a career in technology, the organization said in a news release.

As of January 2020, NPower’s 40 by 22 Initiative has increased the enrollment of young women in their program 105 percent. They have helped 378 women of color launch tech career With close to half of young women unemployed before the program, the average salaries of young women after completing their fundamental training reached $42,500. In contrast, women takin advanced offerings earn $77,000.

“We are targeting people who come from non-traditional paths, so in many cases, they’re coming with some major hurdles,” Parlock said.

To enter the program, individuals at least must have earned a GED and are between 18 and 24

Because of the pandemic, the fall semester will take place virtually. To learn more about NPower, visit: www.npower.org.