rF Live Broadcast-Toni Cunningham of Per Scholas
Last week we talked face to face with the Columbus Managing Director, Toni Cunningham of Per Scholas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing IT job training to individuals that need it the most.
Building Tech In The Nonprofit Space
Per Scholas is a national nonprofit organization that was formed in the Bronx, New York in 1995. Their mission is providing opportunities to build a successful tech career to unemployed, underemployed or low-income individuals at no cost. With their collaboration with partners, Per Scholas provides a great track record of helping their students score jobs after their certification training. After successful growth, Per Scholas came to Columbus in 2012 after realizing there was a high market for tech careers.
Workforce Development & Caring Leadership
Toni Cunningham has an extensive background that gives her exceptional value to the Per Scholas program. Her public service work has shown her commitment to help others with employment. Toni says her current goal at Per Scholas is “insuring that employers will hire people with a certification from Per Scholas…job placement should always be 100%”. She continues to promote up-scaling and students to continue their education.
In 2011, Toni was awarded the Community Leadership Award from Franklin County Children’s Services for her great work with Dress for Success Columbus. “It’s really about transformative work” says Toni, “if you support an individual in this way, you’re impacting another 5 or 6 people…then you are impacting the community which means you are impacting the world…Individuals learn so much about themselves during this process. They come out seeing themselves better”.
Economic Sustainability With The Jobs of The Future
Toni explains that almost all of Per Scholas’s students come with a background where they made little to no money, on average $9K. After completing their program and achieving IT accreditation, most individuals expect a tremendous increase in revenue to almost $35k within the first year of the workforce. Students are required to go through a screening process and assessments so staff can be prepared to tackle any challenges that he or she may face.
“Our seats are very valuable,” says Toni, “the first week of training is zero tolerance, they can’t miss a day, can’t be late…or we will ask you to come back when you are ready.” “We are having to get people with new habits and a commitment level…we even do soft skills training one full day a week”. On average, 95% percent of individuals finish Per Scholas’s training and 80% successfully find a job not long after. Students of Per Scholas can even continue their education with downtown partners like Columbus State and Franklin University, utilizing their IT certificate as free college credit to continue onward to pursue higher education.