Rachel Nelson

Tech Impact is a global nonprofit whose mission is to ensure all nonprofits can use technology to serve the world better. The company was founded as NPower PA in 2002 with support from Microsoft and a matching grant from the William Penn Foundation. The team began with 30 organizations as members, and right now, they serve over 375 nonprofits with affordable, high-quality technology services.

One of Tech Impact’s programs is called ITWorks. ITWorks is an award-winning free, 16-week job training program that offers immersive IT training to young adults. Students earn a professional certification in IT and a real-world internship inside leading corporations and nonprofits.

“ITWorks is a workforce development program for young people between 18-26 that did not have the opportunity to complete college and are interested in a career in Information Technology,” explained Rachel Nelson, ITWorks Program Coordinator at Tech Impact. “This free program teaches technology skills that lead to industry certifications. The program is augmented by over 100 hours of soft-skills training, led by volunteers, and an internship that provides on-the-job experience.”

The ITWorks program has been operating successfully in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. ITWorks has graduated more than 200 students nationally since 2010. One hundred percent of program graduates are placed into IT internships, and 75 percent find full-time opportunities within seven months of graduation.

Tech Impact recently announced that it will launch ITWorks in Las Vegas in February 2016.

“Tech Impact serves nonprofits nationally but recognizes the need for programs like this in cities with high youth unemployment or underemployment,” said Nelson. “Volunteers are a very important part of the program. They help keep the program’s cost lower and expose the students to professionals. Volunteers provide one-on-one mentoring for our students, help us deliver our soft-skills curriculum, and help supervise interns. We also welcome senior IT leaders to come and speak about their careers as role models.”

Tech Impact

Nelson said an ideal volunteer is someone who wants to help make a difference in someone else’s life by sharing their expertise and encouraging the students to succeed.

“It is incredibly powerful to be a mentor and cheerleader for these students,” she said. “Helping them transform knowledge building and confidence building can be very rewarding. Our volunteers love the program. They get to see first-hand the impact of their work. They get to watch the students grow and become IT, professionals. They get to see the progress of these young people through the years. They become part of a group of like-minded people who care about helping someone else gain some of the opportunities that they have been given. Our volunteers often tell us that they feel like they receive more from the program than they give.”

Because Tech Impact is a nonprofit, volunteers play many vital roles in the organization. Tech Impact has an all-volunteer board of directors and volunteer committee members that help manage finances and programs. Hundreds of volunteers help to support the ITWorks program each year.
“Anyone who would like to volunteer should reach out to me at [email protected],” said Nelson. “There is also a form on our website to register your interest in becoming a volunteer. It is an incredible program, so if you know a young person looking for an opportunity to pursue a career in information technology, please send them our way.”

Applications to be part of the Las Vegas program as a student are being accepted here. All graduates receive the Cisco IT Essentials Professional Certification, and approximately 80 percent of graduates also receive the CompTIA A+ Professional Certification.