Nonprofit launching Tech Transformation Academy, offering web development and cybersecurity training
City of Refuge, a nonprofit based on Atlanta’s Westside in the city’s 30314 neighborhood, has been awarded a $5.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to invest in technology career pathways. The 24-year-old organization is using the funding to launch the Tech Transformation Academy (T2 Academy), a technology-focused program offering training in web development and cybersecurity through a partnership with Atlanta-based DigitalCrafts and the Carolina Cyber Center of Montreat College. Over the next four years, City of Refuge plans to recruit and train 280 individuals from minoritized, unemployed or underemployed demographics across the region.
“At City of Refuge, we work to transform lives in our community by meeting people where they are and creating a pathway to a self-sufficient lifestyle through job training, mentorship and more,” said Jeannie Ross, director of the Workforce Innovation Hub at City of Refuge. “With global companies like Microsoft and Airbnb setting up shop here in Atlanta, we have the perfect opportunity to provide the resources and skills to propel individuals into a highly rewarding career. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Labor for selecting us as a grant recipient and to all partners involved in bringing this programming to life.”
During the last six months, City of Refuge has worked with DigitalCrafts and Carolina Cyber Center to strategically curate the program to address the barriers that hinder individuals from gainful employment due to systemic and cyclical poverty in the nonprofit’s surrounding neighborhood. City of Refuge has also formed a team of eight dedicated to operating the T2 Academy, including a program director (Ross), an employee engagement specialist, program recruiter and two case managers. Through the T2 Academy, City of Refuge aims to meet the demand for middle and high skills labor in the information technology and cybersecurity industries. DigitalCrafts will be responsible for the Web Development curriculum while Carolina Cyber Center will oversee Cybersecurity.
“DigitalCrafts is ecstatic to partner alongside City of Refuge, supporting our social impact mission to train more individuals in the city of Atlanta with our cutting-edge curriculum. We have seen the impact of our program on the lives of so many, and our hope is that each individual who comes through the Web Development Program under the T2 Academy will leave not only equipped and supported for a career transition into IT, but set up for a long-lasting and successful career,” said Natalie Cataldo, Student Success Manager at DigitalCrafts.”
Carolina Cyber Center will offer a flexible learning environment with virtual programs providing live and asynchronous learning, a rich set of virtual labs to evolve students’ hands-on skills, custom-developed mobile apps for memory aides, exam preparation and a modern high definition virtual teaching lab with engaging tools. Individuals on the Cybersecurity track will have a choice to train and test for the following industry recognized credentials (combined with real-world simulations in various cyber ranges): CompTIA ITF+, A+1, A+2, Network+, Security+, Cloud+ and Pentest+. The Cybersecurity training will take nine to 18 months to complete.
“Cybersecurity is the greatest existential threat to our country. We are honored to serve with City of Refuge and DigitalCrafts on this endeavor – which is important to our nation, the Atlanta region and, of course, the students we serve. Our program blends cybersecurity technical training with professional skills development and the essential life skills to position graduates for a thriving career in a demanding field. Thanks to the Department of Labor and our partners, we are blessed to have the resources, passion, and leadership for this multi-year program,” said Adam Bricker, executive director of the Carolina Cyber Center.
Recruiting for the first two cohorts, which are slated to begin August 16, is currently underway. Each cohort will consist of 20 individuals and scholarships will be offered to those who are eligible. City of Refuge is hosting open houses for interested students to learn more about the programs on Wednesday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 7 from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.
Classes for both tracks will be available for both full- and part-time students. Throughout their training, students will have access to a full array of social services and support, including one-on-one mentoring provided by corporate partners such as Cox Enterprises, Elavon, EY and UPS for at least one year, as well as job readiness training consisting of resume building, soft skills and personal development. Employers interested in providing curriculum advice, visiting the City of Refuge classrooms, participating in the organization’s Hackathons and Cyber Range, mentoring T2 Academy students or hiring graduates should contact Ron Cofield, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon completion and credentialing, graduates will have the opportunity for job placement as a Web Developer/Software Engineer with a starting salary of approximately $55,000. Alternatively, they can choose to be placed in a 12-month internship with a corporate partner at a starting salary of $36,000. If the corporate partner determines not to hire an intern upon completion of the 12-month program, job placement staff at City of Refuge will help find a career for them through other corporate partnerships or job fairs.
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.
DigitalCrafts offers full-time and part-time software development and UX design bootcamps both online and in-person in hybrid learning. Their Web Development Program has enrolled over 1000 budding software engineers and has been ranked by Course Report as one of the best-reviewed coding bootcamps in the world for breaking into the software field. Their current programs are intensive classroom experiences, transforming beginners into IT professionals with cutting edge skill sets, project portfolios, interview training, and career support. With education at its core and a vast network of skilled engineers and alumni, DigitalCrafts also offers premier software staffing services and corporate training solutions, specializing in reskilling and up-skilling modern technology teams.
About The Carolina Cyber Center of Montreat College
Carolina Cyber Center’s mission is to develop cybersecurity professionals of character while delivering services to measurably improve the security and resilience of regional public and private resources. A first of its kind, the Carolina Cyber Center (C3) seeks to be a national demonstration of regional cybersecurity preparation and threat mitigation. C3 runs a series of intense full and part-time academies leveraging industry-recognized training/certifications, leading practice hands-on platforms (labs, cyber ranges, etc.) and intentional development of the essential life skills for cybersecurity professionals of character (curiosity, critical thinking, ethics, etc.). C3 also provides cybersecurity services in areas such as risk assessments, vulnerability assessments, fractional CISO, and MDR so students get real-world experience while serving their community. C3 also acts as a clearinghouse of “reasonable and prudent” tactics, techniques, and procedures for cybersecurity.