AHA News: Bronx-Based Program Is Teaching Coding and Web Development – And Changing Lives | Health News

AHA News: Bronx-Based Program Is Teaching Coding and Web Development – And Changing Lives | Health News

For News of the American Heart Association, Health Day Reporter

(Health Day)

MONDAY, Oct. 25, 2021 (American Heart Association News) – Nearly two years after graduating with a degree in information technology in 2016, Dwayne Levene was struggling to find work and direction for his life.

His vision changed when the 28-year-old discovered The Knowledge House, a non-profit organization based in the Bronx, New York, where he enrolled in the coding, web development, and other courses he needed to secure a well-paid technological job. He also found professional coaching and a funnel of job contacts. He soon got a job as a computer science teacher.

“I graduated from college and was floating like everyone else looking for work,” Levene said. “Now I’m a high-paying teacher and I can be a service provider for my family. This is the most stable I’ve ever been in my life.”

Levene is exactly the kind of student co-founders Jerelyn Rodriguez and Joe Carrano had in mind when they started The Knowledge House in 2014. The co-founders set out on a mission to close the gap in the pipeline between education and employment. by offering coding and development courses to young blacks, Hispanics, and other people of color, who have historically lacked the resources or been left out of this channel due to inequalities stemming from structural racism.

So they started focusing on their neighbors in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City.

With so many open positions in the growing technology sector, they recognized that The Knowledge House could help lift entire communities out of poverty. They created a channel of talented and capable workers equipped with the technological skills to get positions with initial annual salaries of about $ 55,000 or more.

Rodriguez said some students go from minimum wage jobs to earning nearly $ 100,000 a year and the opportunities available are plentiful. The demand for training is also increasing.

“There is an increase in the demand for training in digital skills and we see that technological work has not gone anywhere,” said Rodriguez, CEO of The Knowledge House. “On the contrary, during COVID we learned that employers demand basic digital skills. This means that everyone should be seen as a technology worker and every company should be seen as a technology company.”

This is because most companies want employees to know how to use video conferencing and messaging software and applications, Rodriguez said. Opportunity doors open for tech-savvy applicants and probably do not need a college degree.

The Knowledge House has served nearly 2,000 students with an 85% graduation rate. And it is growing rapidly. Last year, the organization had 100 students with 11 staff members. By 2021, the organization plans to grow to 200 students and 18 employees.

At least 75% of students have gotten a job when they complete their training programs and training camps.

Rodriguez attributes some of this success to the majority of staff members, about 90%, who represent the same races and ethnicities as students, live in the same communities as students, or are graduates of the program.

“This is built by black people for black people or for people of color for people of color,” Rodriguez said.

“I’m a black woman and my co-founder is Latino. We come from immigrant families and very impoverished communities. We use our professional challenges to inform ourselves. We wonder what didn’t work for us, what solution would have worked for us that it will work for our students. “

With an unprecedented level of support from corporations and nonprofits by 2020, The Knowledge House is expanding to Atlanta, Los Angeles and Newark, New Jersey, offering free technology training to students ages 14 to 35. .

He received a $ 100,000 grant from the American Heart Association’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, which works to reduce social and economic barriers to health equity by investing in small businesses and organizations in low-income communities.

The funding will be used to study the health needs of students, who often reside in communities with health inequalities and disparities, to help them overcome health-related barriers to employment, Rodriguez said.

Levene, the father of a newborn daughter, is excited about the impetus given to him by The Knowledge House.

“It was a wonderful experience. Now, if anyone needs anything, I can help,” he said. “That means the world to me. I’m in this position because I took these steps with The Knowledge House. I’m here and I’m able to deliver, which is my top priority.”

News from the American Heart Association covers heart and brain health. Not all opinions expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned by the American Heart Association, Inc. and all rights reserved. If you have any questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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