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Work Hard receives nearly $1 million for workforce development


Last updated 7/10/2019 at 8:07pm

Work Hard Pittsburgh, in conjunction with New Sun Rising (NSR), will expand its workforce development and regional tech equity initiatives in Pittsburgh’s Hilltop neighborhoods, thanks to $950,000 in total funding commitments over two years from the Hillman Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.

In its first year, 80 individuals will participate in job training programs with contracted partners, including the Academy PGH coding academy and Work Hard Pittsburgh. The Hilltop Workforce Development Program will provide equitable access to training, apprenticeships, and living wage job placement in tech and tech-adjacent industries primarily in Pittsburgh’s Hilltop and southern neighborhoods.

“Much of the disparity we see in who benefits from the tech economy can be linked to a lack of access. It is encouraging to see this significant investment in training and placement programs that are embedded within the community and directly informed by industry need,” said Scott Wolovich, executive director of New Sun Rising.

The program will build off of the success of Academy PGH, a 12-week intensive coding academy that has placed more than 80 participants into full-time careers since 2016. Half of all Academy participants are from underrepresented groups in tech, and graduates average a starting salary of $58,000.

It will also extend into tech-adjacent careers, such as digital marketing and medical billing, a growing sector in which many socioeconomic groups are also underrepresented.

The Work Hard Pittsburgh digital media cooperative is currently working to establish a state-of-the-art training facility in Allentown, its home since 2012.

Included in the new building will be a 25-person classroom, full media production suite, private offices, conference rooms, and coworking desk space. In the interim, WHPGH will use its existing facilities on East Warrington Ave. and partner with neighborhood organizations to begin training.

“Work Hard Pittsburgh is providing real opportunity. Not only economically, but through inclusivity, and we’ve made a decision to be intentional about it,” said Maximilian Dennison, Digital Inclusion and Equity Coordinator of Work Hard Pittsburgh.

Fifty percent of the slots for these new initiatives are reserved for demographics that are underrepresented in tech and tech-adjacent industries. Currently, only 10 percent and 12 percent of computer science majors are Black and Latino respectively, while 83 percent of tech executives are White.

Furthermore, women in STEM make $16,000 less on average than their male counterparts, while Black and Latino people make $14,000 less than their white coworkers. The coming economic changes caused by emerging technologies means cause underserved and underrepresented populations will suffer the most from an increasing wealth gap.


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