BOSTON — Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy announced three new grants from the Commonwealth’s Tech Talent Diversity Initiative, an effort aimed at boosting diversity hiring and training opportunities for diverse candidates. The three grants, totaling $494,947, were awarded to Tech Foundry in Springfield, Hack.Diversity in Boston, and Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology in Boston.
“The Tech Talent Diversity grants are one way our administration is working to improve equity in a key, growing sector, by supporting organizations that are opening doors for new candidates to find employment or to get the training they need to enter a career,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “We look forward to seeing the progress these organizations will make in the future.”
Tech Foundry was founded in 2014 by Pioneer Valley tech employers and other workforce, business, education, and economic-development stakeholders to address the regional skills gap in information technology and drive regional economic growth. The organization offers training programs aimed at filling entry-level IT roles and provides training that is tailored to the needs of partner employers, including a work-experience component where students are placed in a position at a local employer.
Tech Foundry’s $72,547 grant award will be used to assist employer partners’ ability to host students, primarily in the Pioneer Valley, for hands-on training, by creating a new platform called Tech Foundry Ventures to host two new programs, including the development of a virtual IT technician-training environment, working with employer partners to create a tool where students will face similar scenarios to those seen on the job, allowing them to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom without the stakes of serving real-world clients; and the launch of a service-learning initiative where students will work with community organizations that cannot afford to utilize commercial services, providing similar IT services to those provided by employer partners. The expanded tools will allow Tech Foundry to train as many as 150 additional students per year, three times its existing number.
“Tech Foundry provides agile, real-time opportunities for our student members to practice the new technology skills they’re developing through training,” said Tricia Canavan, CEO of Tech Foundry. “The Tech Talent Diversity Initiative funding is allowing us to expand the opportunities for refining their students’ tech competencies through a two-pronged approach. The virtual ‘sandbox’ allows Tech Foundry to create scenarios in real-time which reflect our employer partners’ unique help-desk needs, enabling relevant skills practice. The service-learning project will provide Tech Foundry participants another opportunity to sharpen their tech skills while also supporting the community. The Commonwealth’s investment in these programs will provide measurable, positive impact to our student members as well as the region.”