Association to Train Underserved Communities in Emerging Tech

ISACA’s program is designed to support more than 150 learners in five U.S. communities, with plans for more.

A leading IT association has developed partnerships in multiple cities to provide technology certification training for underserved communities.

Earlier this year, ISACA, an association of technology professionals, announced a partnership with the Caterpillar Foundation to provide training and support for job seekers in five cities under a program called the Digital Trust–Workforce Inclusion Program (DT-WIP). And earlier this month, ISACA announced another Atlanta initiative in partnership with that city’s chapter of Blacks in Technology, which supports Black tech professionals. (Other cities participating in DT-WIP are Milwaukee, Dallas, Nashville, and Peoria, Ill.)

“The goal is to help folks who come from underserved communities see themselves in the tech space,” said ISACA Senior Program Manager Ivette Chavez. “Historically, minorities haven’t been told that this is an option for them.” According to a 2022 report from the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Blacks represent approximately 14 percent of the U.S. private workforce overall but only 7.4 percent of the U.S. tech workforce.

To address that gap, ISACA’s Atlanta partnership with the Atlanta BIT chapter will provide training for a 25-person cohort to study for a certification in emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, blockchain, Internet of Things, and AI. Participants receive training, laptops, and support for job applications and interviewing.

We’re not just saying, ‘Here’s a certification, good luck.’”

Ivette Chavez, ISACA

The success of the programs in Atlanta and other cities, Chavez said, relies on providing wraparound supports for before and after the two-and-a-half-month training is delivered. The program opens with a panel discussion featuring community members in the IT space so learners can learn about career possibilities; they also receive assistance when it comes to resume writing and job interviews.

“We wanted to make sure that we were taking a holistic approach to the program and not just saying, ‘Here’s a certification, good luck,’” she said. “We know that if you’re trying to go into a new industry, there’s going to be a huge learning curve, and anytime we learn anything new, we’re going to revert back to a time when we struggled a bit.”

Because the program requires different supports, ISACA uses multiple partners to help deliver the program. ISACA’s charitable One In Tech Foundation will provide continuing-education stipends, free student memberships in ISACA, and other supports; local charity City of Refuge is offering space for the training; another will provide laptops; and the president of Blacks in Technology will provide the training itself.

Beyond coordinating a range of resources, Chavez said, the success of the program depends on customizing what kind of training is the best fit for a particular city. That means coordinating with partners to determine both needs and opportunities. 

“We know that the Atlanta area is a bit more developed in its tech space, so we picked our emerging technology certification there,” she said. “In other cities, the training will be more foundational. We looked at the region, looked at where the industry was in terms of development, and then brought those courses there.”

Chavez said it’s already talking with Blacks in Technology about raising funds to continue the program beyond the 25-person pilot. “We’re trying to find synergies around their programming and ours,” she said. “City of Refuge has already said they have tons of people on a wait list.”

Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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