The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced on Tuesday, Aug. 17, the Minnesota Tech Training Pilot Program Competitive Grant award recipients.

The recipients were selected for their innovative approaches to diversifying the tech sector in Minnesota. In 2019, according to the American Community Survey, only 4% of the tech jobs in Minnesota were held by Black individuals, and only 7% by Hispanic individuals.

The pilot program was designed to address the racial disparities in employment as a result of structural disadvantages that students who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) face as they seek education.

DEED, when making the announcement on Tuesday, Aug. 17, said as the state continues on a pathway to rebuild and recover after the pandemic and racial reckoning of 2020, it is focused on targeting resources and services to the communities hit the hardest. The pilot programs will train young adults ages 18 to 30 who are BIPOC individuals in technology career pathways and place them in permanent employment at a family-sustaining wage.

"I am thrilled that this new program will engage young, creative BIPOC Minnesotans in tech career pathways," said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. "This program will provide both skills and mentorship for young Minnesotans to experience hands-on training that can lead to high-quality and family-wage-sustaining jobs."

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The pilot program was created intentionally to give organizations the flexibility to design a framework and training program that would include: mentorship, paid work experience, on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, and tech skills training. Participating programs must also include partnerships with employers, career and education navigation, work readiness, job placement, and support services.

Award recipients will reach young people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color across the state of Minnesota, with a mix of online and in-person training opportunities that best match the needs of the job seekers and the employers in their communities.

The following organizations were awarded funds:

Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence – $300,000

Bringing together partners from across the state of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Tech Training Pilot Collaborative will provide navigation, training, and support services to approximately 100 BIPOC students in a hybrid delivery model.

Participants across the state will be able to access skilled IT training at multiple levels, from entry level Microsoft Office Specialist training to advanced training resulting in industry recognized credentials such as CompTIA A+. Participants will also have the ability to access internships and direct job placement through a variety of business partners.

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center – $215,468

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (PWCC) has served the North Minneapolis community since 1924 and, with the award from the Minnesota Tech Training Pilot Program, they will provide navigation, training and support to approximately 100 BIPOC students.

Students will receive training in a variety of Microsoft Azure programs, resulting in certification. Students will have access to internships and direct job placement with committed business partners Comcast-Twin Cities and Medtronic.

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center believes that the key to an inclusive recovery will be to provide digital skills to people hardest hit by job losses in the greater Minneapolis community, including people with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented groups.

Prime Digital Academy – $200,000

Prime Digital Academy's mission is to humanize technology by bringing diverse and driven problem-solvers to the challenge of creating a better tomorrow.

With the Minnesota Tech Training Pilot Program award, the BIPOC Young Adult Training Access Fund for Tech Careers, along with other leveraged sources, will fund 100% of tuition and navigation services to BIPOC students in Prime Digital Academy's 10-28 week programs of Full Stack Software Engineering and User Experience Design training.

Eighty-three percent of Prime Digital Academy graduates are working in the technology field with an average annual salary of $62,405.

Software for Good – $200,000

Software for Good, a public benefit corporation since 2015, designs and builds web and mobile applications for nonprofits, government and civic entities, social enterprises, corporations, and educational institutions.

With Minnesota Tech Training Pilot Program funding, they will expand their award winning internship program, which pairs recent graduate software developers with organizations seeking to use technology for positive social or environmental change. BIPOC participants will be matched with an organization and, as paid interns, will gain valuable work experience, mentoring and support.

All of Software for Good's interns who haven't pursued additional higher education have gone on to employment in the field of technology.