Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation gives $2 million to IT career program

December 14th, 2016
Southwest Solutions has partnered with DESC to offer IT training to Detroit residents. Photo credit: Grand Circus
Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation gives $2 million to IT career program

Sherri Welch, Crain’s Detroit Business
December 14, 2016

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has made a $2 million grant to the Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. to help educate Detroiters for information technology careers.

The new grant will support the regional expansion of TechHire, a White House initiative launched to expand local tech sectors by building talent pipelines in commuities across the country.

Detroit was designated a TechHire city by the White House in 2015.

The four-year TechHire initiative provides IT training to people in Detroit and others from around the region who are interested in an IT career, as well as Detroit-area employers like Detroit-based DTE Energy Co., which are looking for qualified IT talent.

It will be managed by city of Detroit workforce agency DESC, which is working with Southwest Solutions, Focus:HOPE, and Detroit IT training organization Grand Circus to deliver the program.

DESC said the Wilson grant will be combined with federal and private workforce funding to provide a variety of IT trainings and apprenticeships designed to help Detroiters at multiple skill levels enter into IT careers. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s workforce development board and the region’s IT employers will oversee the initiative.

“This is truly a game-changer for many metro Detroit jobseekers who have wanted an IT career but have been unable to get their foot inside the door,” said Jose Reyes, interim president and CEO of DESC, in a news release.

The TechHire program provides tiers of training that can be accessed by new high school graduates, those with post-secondary degrees and others, he said.

The initial tier of training is a 10-week accelerator course designed to give trainees key math and reading skills, as well as the technical training and soft skills they will need to move on to the more advanced tiers.

Students completing all three tiers will be ready for careers in database or network administration, computer programming and software development. The first cohort of 24 students is currently underway, and further cohorts will begin in January, DESC said in a release.

Detroiters interested in the TechHire initiative can visit here to register.

The $2 million grant from the Wilson Foundation to DESC follows a grant of the same amount made earlier this year to support the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, Detroit’s public-private summer jobs program.

The foundation in the fall identified skills training for young adults and working-class families as one of its focus areas as it spends down more than $1 billion in assets through grants made in Southeast Michigan and western New York.

The foundation is also making grants in the areas of early childhood and sports and youth development, support for caregivers, nonprofit capacity-building and economic development.

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