Facebook pixel EHF Grant to Establish STLCC’s “Sisters in Tech” Program

EHF Grant to Establish STLCC’s “Sisters in Tech” Program

Thursday, October 28, 2021

A grant received from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation will help St. Louis Community College address the gender gap in the local information technology sector.

The $350,000 grant from EHF to the STLCC Foundation will establish a Sisters in Tech cohort through the STLCC Tech Academy, allowing the College to expand its outreach and provide greater access to IT training for women who are changing careers, underemployed or unemployed.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, as this grant will allow us not only to help women obtain high wage careers in the IT sector, but also support the long-term economic health of our local communities,” said Jeff L. Pittman, Ph.D., STLCC chancellor.

“The Enterprise Holdings Foundation is proud to support the St. Louis Community College Tech Academy and its Sisters in Tech cohort,” said an EHF representative. “With the continued growth of the IT industry in the St. Louis region and across Missouri, this program is working to provide greater access to cutting-edge education and training, while opening the door to significant career opportunities for women in high-demand IT positions.”

While STLCC provides training programs and credentials leading to employment for hundreds of thousands of students in more than 80 career tracks, Sisters in Tech addresses the shortage of skilled female IT workers. A specialist will coordinate services and support for women and other under-represented students with targeted recruitment and enrollment, and provide guidance to reduce or eliminate the financial burden of program cost.

Students receive academic counseling to participate in a guided pathway toward certificates and stackable credentials, an associate in applied science degree, skill building and opportunities for paid internships, apprenticeships, or job interviews/placement upon graduation. Pathways include degrees such as cybersecurity, network engineering and software development, as well as short-term certificates that include web developer and help desk support.

Students will be offered comprehensive access to tutoring, mentoring and wraparound support services including free access to equipment, supplies, transportation vouchers, child care, food assistance, etc. Funds also will be used for internship stipends, and a program specialist who will assist with outreach, recruitment and student retention.

Women make up 47% of all employed adults in the U.S., but as of 2015, they hold only 25% of computing roles, according to data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). Of the 25% of women working in tech, Asian women make up just 5% of that number, while Black and Hispanic women accounted for 3% and 1%, respectively. All this despite the growth of STEM jobs outpacing the growth of overall employment in the country, (79% since 1990 while overall employment has grown 34%), according to data from Pew Research Center. Despite national conversations about the lack of diversity in tech, women are disproportionally missing out on this growth opportunity.

“I am very excited about this game-changing opportunity to support women in tech fields,” said Feleccia Moore-Davis, Ph.D., president at STLCC’s Meramec campus. “Women have been underrepresented in this field for decades, and this partnership affords us the opportunity to make a difference in the tech community.”

The STLCC Tech Academy currently lessens inequities for minority students through a new guided pathway approach and a specialized training curriculum in the growing IT sector. Through this program, STLCC trains qualified workers to address the high demand for IT professionals, making high-wage job opportunities available for individuals currently unemployed, under-employed or unskilled. STLCC collaborates with area employer partners to ensure guided career pathway programs for students result in placement into paid internships and high-wage, in-demand IT jobs. The program also assists individuals and underrepresented communities in the St. Louis region who have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis.

“We are thrilled about the generous donation from Enterprise Holdings Foundations in support of St. Louis Community College's Sisters in Tech Program,” said Vanessa Okwuraiwe, chair of the STLCC Foundation Board. “It will provide more students with opportunities to learn and develop skills that increase their career prospects and improve overall well-being.”

The Enterprise Holdings Foundation was established in 1982 to give back to the communities where partners and employees live and work. Since then, EHF has contributed more than $462.5 million to thousands of local nonprofits focused on community improvement, education and environmental stewardship. Commitments range from global philanthropic initiatives to community-focused projects.

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