TD will be accepting grant applications from eligible charities and not-for profits for the 2023 TD Ready Challenge until September 13, 2023. For complete details about this year's Challenge, including this year's problem statement, please visit: td.com/readychallenge
Keep learning and you’ll keep succeeding.
That is the key message behind a program that received a grant in 2020 from the TD Ready Challenge. Per Scholas – a national non-profit organization that provides tuition-free technology career training to people typically not represented in the field – won the grant for a program that delivers continuing education to Per Scholas alumni who want to upgrade their skills in IT, cloud support, cybersecurity, software engineering, Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, and more.
“The impact of this program is really significant,” said Caitlyn Brazill, chief development officer at Per Scholas, the organization that has helped more than 20,000 graduates– including many women and people of color – launch successful technology careers. “We now have more than 1,500 alumni who have benefitted from this particular set of alumni upskilling opportunities, of course, at no-cost to Per Scholas-trained technologists."
When asked about the success of this new initiative and intentional focus on alumni training to achieve a thriving wage, Caitlyn underscored impressive wage gains: early data reveals Per Scholas graduates who successfully completed another upskilling course increased their income to the tune of $13,000 as compared to those who didn’t take advantage of a tuition-free Per Scholas alumni upskilling course. In regard to the alumni training initiative, the seed funding from the TD Ready Challenge grant helped Per Scholas to attract investments from other organizations and offer even more upskilling opportunities.
Building diversity in technology
Founded in 1995 in New York’s South Bronx community, Per Scholas opens doors to high-demand jobs in technology by providing tuition-free tech skills training that combine hands-on technical instruction with professional skills development.
About 80 percent of Per Scholas graduates find full-time employment within one year of completing a course and – true to the organization’s ultimate goal of building diversity in technology – 85 percent of graduates are people of color, 40 percent identify as women, and more than two thirds have a high school diploma as their highest education credential before entering Per Scholas training.
"Our mission originally was focused on the digital divide, and as part of that work we would recruit and train community residents to refurbish end-of-life computers donated to us by midtown Manhattan firms,” recalled Caitlyn. “But very quickly we recognized that we were giving people this fantastic skill set that they could use to get more lucrative employment. So over time we developed this immersive training model that leads to industry-recognized credentials, which has been externally evaluated and its efficacy proven time and time again.”
Today, Per Scholas offers its best-in-class tech skills training from more than 20 Per Scholas campuses coast-to-coast, in cities with high need for skilled tech talent.
Supporting solutions for a changing world
Launched in 2018 as part of the TD Ready Commitment –the Bank's corporate citizenship platform – the TD Ready Challenge is an annual North American initiative that this year will award a total of ten grants of $1 million to organizations developing innovative, impactful, and measurable solutions for a changing world.
Grant recipients are selected based on their ability to address a particular social problem spotlighted by the TD Ready Challenge. For 2023, applicants must present innovative solutions that can address systemic barriers to affordable housing across the continuum – from transitional to permanent homes.
These solutions should, ideally, also improve access to affordable and stable housing for those who need it most, such as people from racialized and Indigenous communities, seniors, newcomers, veterans, families with children – particularly those led by single women of color – and people with low incomes, existing health conditions or disabilities.
A Canadian organization with a mission to help women build tech skills and find IT jobs
Anita Carroll recalls the lightbulb moment five years ago when the team she works with at Access Employment – a Toronto-based charitable organization that provides employment counselling and training to newcomers and underserved groups – came up with an idea to help women that were new-to-Canada start careers in information technology.
A grant from the TD Ready Challenge turned that idea into a full-fledged program, called Women in Technology, which to date has helped about 250 women build skills in areas such as programming, web development and coding. About 90 per cent of graduates have found work in IT within a year of finishing the program.
“We have graduates who now hold roles such as QA analyst, software developer, web developer and test specialist, while one woman has gone on to become a professor of technology at an Ontario college,” said Anita, SVP, Corporate and Stakeholder Relations at Access Employment. “The results from the program have been fantastic, and we couldn’t have done it without funding from the TD Ready Challenge.”
For Polina Reshetilo, the impact of the TD Ready Challenge translated into a new job she loves in the country she now calls home.
In January 2023 – six months after she arrived in Canada from Ukraine – Polina heard about the Acces Women in Technology program from another newcomer she met in her English language class in Toronto.
She applied for the nine-week program stream geared towards women with less than two years of experience in technology.
“The program was much more than technology training,” says Polina, who holds bachelor and master’s degrees in international economics and worked as an economist and specialist in foreign affairs, foreign economics and investment before pivoting to software development. “I got help preparing my curriculum vitae and was able to get a better understanding of the Canadian labour market. Through the program I also improved my communication skills and had opportunities to meet potential employers through networking events.”