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A Model for Success: WorkAdvance and Per Scholas

by CNCS Staff

Through the Social Innovation Fund, The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City is also supporting the expansion of WorkAdvance. WorkAdvance seeks to boost the earnings of unemployed and low-wage working adults by helping them prepare for and enter quality jobs in targeted industries with opportunities for career growth.

The WorkAdvance model is built on strong evaluation evidence of best practices from national programs that employ sector-focused and skills-building strategies.

Per Scholas in the Bronx, NY is a nationally recognized non-profit leader with a strong record of successfully providing sector-focused programming. In June 2011, Per Scholas began scaling up their work with CEO and SIF support.

With a focus on information technology (IT), the Per Scholas WorkAdvance program employs WorkAdvance's evidence-based strategies to place low-wage workers into quality jobs such as computer support specialists, desktop support technicians, and network specialists. WorkAdvance will also be replicated in Cleveland and Youngstown, OH and Tulsa, OK.

José is an example of a participant who has excelled because of Per Scholas' IT-focused program. His story, and others like it, is why the Mayor's Fund selected WorkAdvance as a SIF subgrantee. José learned about Per Scholas' computer technician training while participating in a community release program that connects inmates to paid work in the community.

He worked part-time at a fast food restaurant in the evenings and returned to the correctional facility each night after work. José, who was 26-years old at the time, saw technology as a potential career path to a good paying job. Eager to rebuild his life, José applied for Per Scholas' IT course.

José's positive attitude and motivation made him an ideal participant. José continued to work in the evenings while attending classes full-time, Monday through Friday. Despite the challenges, José completed the training program and obtained his A+ Certification -- the industry certification for computer technicians.

Upon completing the course with Per Scholas, José was referred to a small financial IT company. His first job started at $8.00 per hour, but after several months, received an increase to $10.00 per hour and was assigned to work as an on-site technician for an important corporate client.

José has continued to excel, and is now Lead IT Support Analyst earning $78,000 a year. He is graduating from a local community college with a focus in Computer Information Systems and plans to attend Baruch College of the City University of New York beginning in the fall.

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