This story is part of QnotesCarolinas’ special project “OUTlook: Finding Solutions for LGBTQ Labor and Workplace Equality." It is supported by the Solutions Journalism Network.
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A grant for $250,000 was recently awarded to the non-profit Per Scholas North Carolina, an organization that offers free technology courses to advance economic opportunity and mobility in under-served groups.
Awarded by the City of Charlotte, the training program is specifically earmarked for under-served members of the underserved LGBTQ+ community.
Per Scholas’s partner in the grant is the Charlotte chapter of Out in Tech.
Per Scholas courses typically run 12 to 15 weeks, and students attend full-time during that period. Courses include cybersecurity, java development, IT support, end user desktop support, and more. Each course incorporates professional development, including mock behavioral and technical interviews and training on topics like professional communication, emotional intelligence and dealing with imposter phenomenon.
In addition to the training, each learner accepted for the program will receive a stipend of $1,000 and assistance with job placement through Charlotte-based Zaddy Solutions, an LGBTQ-owned tech recruiting firm.
Per Scholas’s next in-person course in IT support starts November 29. The organization will continue to accept applications to be part of the class until Monday, November 14.
Per Scholas launched technology training here in Charlotte during June 2020, with about 280 graduates so far. Alumni are now working in technology roles at TEKsystems, UPS, Charter Communications, Lowe’s, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and more.
While the group’s services are focused on communities most often facing financial and educational challenges, recent studies have confirmed many in the LGBTQ community must cope with these uphill battles, as well.
According to a study from Rutgers University, LGBTQ+ people have experienced higher unemployment than the general population as a result of COVID-19, which suggests that LGBTQ+ people are more heavily represented in less stable service and retail jobs. Within the community, the challenges facing transgender people are even greater. A 2021 McKinsey report found that transgender adults are twice as likely as cisgender adults to be unemployed.
For more details, visit the Per Scholas North Carolina website.