ATLANTA (Sept. 14, 2018) – On Monday, September 17, Atlanta-based nonprofit City of Refuge will open its new Tech Academy in the Workforce Innovation Hub and launch the Academy’s first six-month training program, introducing 25 local students to the world of coding. In conjunction with Interapt, a Kentucky-based information technology firm, and Accenture, a leading global professional services company, City of Refuge will provide Westside residents with the skills to succeed in the information technology industry.
“When we train and place someone in a high-paying and unfilled job, we’re injecting income into the local economy. That income ripples through the economy several times over, leading to more income for local business and more jobs over time. Some estimate that one high-paying tech job can lead to an additional five local jobs over the medium to long term,” said Ankur Gopal, founder and CEO of Interapt. “Through strategic leadership and City of Refuge’s mission, we have found local people who have the passion for technology and the desire to be life-long learners, but just needed an opportunity – that’s what we are providing – a real shot at a career path and an opportunity to change their life trajectory.”
Information technology currently ranks fifth for highest value of unfilled jobs. A recent study found there are 263,586 open positions in the industry at a value of $20.1 billion. Additionally, software engineers have some of the highest values from unfilled jobs with nearly 13,200 open positions valued at $1.3 million.
“Atlanta being the fourth largest tech hub in the United States puts the City of Refuge Tech Academy in a great position to bring authentic innovation and life impact to the Westside,” said Dom Preyer, director of the Workforce Innovation Hub.
The mission of the new Tech Academy at City of Refuge is to transform students and empower them through technology. Interapt will provide its own teachers and train local staff to support the program during its two-year contract with City of Refuge. Students of the program must be at least 16 to enroll, and will ultimately graduate as junior software developers.
Interapt’s project-based curriculum starts students with an introduction to digital literacy, computational thinking, problem solving, and an introduction to programming with web. Throughout the program, students will learn how to develop websites and web apps using the quickly-growing MERN stack (Mongo db, Express, React, Node). During their rigorous project-building cycles, they will utilize and learn topics, including software development life-cycle, how to keep up with technology, RESTful APIs, UI/UX basics, test-driven development, and how to deploy their very own websites and web apps.
Initially, the Tech Academy will be made up of three different tracks, including hardware and network, Java programming and soft skills training. Students will participate in a certificate program in a specific field and complete a soft skills training led by Accenture during the final months of the program. At the end of each six-month course, students will be placed into a full-time job with a corporate partner company, or a four-to-six-month internship to gain valuable work experience. Since the program is a full-time commitment, City of Refuge will support the students through housing assistance and a weekly stipend.
“We have seen tremendous interest from the local community for this new technology training program and it has been extremely inspiring to see it all come to life over the past several months,” said Bruce Deel, founder and CEO of City of Refuge. “There is a severe shortage of skilled workers in the information technology industry and we are eager to equip residents on the Westside with the knowledge to thrive in the technical metropolis of the Southeast.”
Several companies in Atlanta have contributed to the launch of the Tech Academy, including Elavon, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, and Ernst & Young, among others.
On Monday, Sept. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m., City of Refuge will host a community event to celebrate the grand opening of the Tech Academy. Throughout the evening, guests will enjoy light bites, refreshments and networking. The festivities will also include a panel discussion on how tech can help transform the Westside. The panel will be moderated by Accenture’s Growth & Strategy Lead of Healthcare and Public Service Senior Managing Director Scott Brown, and feature the City of Refuge Workforce Innovation Hub team, the Interapt team and company sponsors.
“Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiative, Skills to Succeed, helps close skills and employment gaps for vulnerable people around the world, and we are proud to have supported the Tech Academy on a pro bono basis throughout its development over the last year,” said Scott Brown, Senior Managing Director, Accenture. “We’re very excited about today’s launch, our continued work with City of Refuge going forward, and what it will mean to the future of this community, bringing opportunity to those who need it most.”
In late 2016, City of Refuge launched a $25.6M capital campaign, and today, more than 37 corporations around the Atlanta area have contributed over $22 million to City of Refuge. The capital is now being used to build more infrastructure for new and expanded vocational programs, including the Tech Academy, and to provide funding for programming within each platform.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Interapt to bring job opportunities in technology to close the workforce gap in high tech and bring light, hope and transformation to the Westside community,” said Preyer.
About City of Refuge:
City of Refuge was founded in 1997 with the mission to transform the lives of individuals and communities in Atlanta and beyond. Today the organization resides in a warehouse that was graciously donated in the 30314 neighborhood, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas in the nation. Since inhabiting the “Where Good Works” center, City of Refuge has helped over 20,000 people across the country and internationally. The organization has created several programs designed to provide an impact in areas such as: housing, youth development, health & wellness, and vocation. City of Refuge is a leader in the business of social transformation and continuously works to empower and equip individuals with the tools to succeed.
Interapt is a software design and development firm, with expertise in business innovation, digital transformation, and IT workforce apprenticeship. Interapt helps roadmap business innovation strategy, builds digital tools that solve business problems, and implements customizable IT apprenticeship programs that train a new generation of technology workers. Interapt strives to be a world-class technology solutions company that attracts and develops the best talent, while providing opportunity to those traditionally excluded from the technology industry. Interapt’s mission is to transform clients and empower humans through technology.