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Pushing boundaries and breaking down barriers 

Few industries or career paths are catching more buzz than “tech” these days. And for an industry founded on innovation, the game seems to change by the day – especially for women and people of color trying to break into a field where they see limited representation. And even though the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul region is trending slightly higher for women at 23.6% (according to research by the GREATER MSP Partnership in the Make It. MSP. Insights Report on local tech), the industry’s status quo and training barriers limit access for diverse candidates.

So when Adrian Ratnayake looked around and saw these same gender and racial discrepancies within the people of his own company, he decided to do something about it. That’s where Transcend IT started.

Adrian launched Transcend IT in 2017 as a non-profit organization dedicated to working with women and people of color to move into technology careers. By offering a framework of education, job skills training, financial literacy, career placement, and continuous mentorship and guidance, Adrian and his team provide participants with a gateway to sustainable employment and income.

Quantifying Change

After just two years of work, Transcend IT is seeing results in training and placing professionals in tech positions. They have participant stories as proof of the impact their systematic training formula is having on students – real, meaningful examples of how people are growing their skills and expanding their opportunities in today’s job marketplace.

When it came time to apply for grants, those stories were powerful, but not enough. What they needed were numbers; hard, tangible data demonstrating the realistic value of Transcend IT both in the lives of its students as well as its impact on the local tech economy.

Thanks to Make It. MSP.’s support, Transcend IT was able to hire Ecotone Analytics, a social impact consulting firm that came on board to help the organization analyze the change-making power of their program through research and interviews with staff and students. What they found wasn’t only encouraging, it was game-changing.

The full report provided by Ecotone Analytics outlined a series of findings from their study as well as recommendations to continue gaining momentum. Nevertheless, its key analysis revealed that Transcend IT was creating real value in the community. According to the report, the analysis “found an estimated social return on investment (SROI) of $6.58. For every $1 spent by Transcend IT in the year 2019, it is estimated to generate approximately $6.58 in future social value spread across program participants, their dependents, society, and taxpayers.” The graphic below shows a visual summary of the report’s most significant findings.

 

Thanks to the work of Ecotone Analytics, Transcend IT had their numbers.

Data with Impact

Armed with this new report, the organization began to apply for grants, the first of which was through the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. The grant involved a series of applications, interviews, and site visits, as well as a real opportunity to introduce the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation to the students being impacted by the program. They won.

The data and research in the report isn’t just helping Transcend IT lock in critical resources to continue their work – it’s also shaping the future of the organization and its training program. Key insights from Ecotone Analytics outlined the realities of today’s tech industry, allowing them the chance to reevaluate and reshape their systems of training in a way that maximizes impact.

For example, the study showed that individuals that were able to dedicate at least 15-20 hours a week to the program yielded the best results when it came time for job placement. It also pushed Transcend IT to amp up training opportunities for help desk positions, which were noted as an expanding area of interest and need in the industry.

In the End, It’s All About the People

In August alone, Transcend IT welcomed 12 new participants to their classroom.  In the same timeframe, three of their students, Vladimir, Thomas, and Blanca, received placements through a partner company. In early September, students and staff gathered at the program offices to celebrate Anne, a recent Transcend IT graduate that had recently landed a Network Security Engineer position.

Numbers might help showcase the impact of programs like Transcend IT, but at the end of the day it’s all about people and the opportunity to pursue their passion and build stable economic futures for themselves and their families.

Transcend IT has no shortage of stories about people like Vladimir, Thomas, Blanca, and Anne. To hear more, visit their Facebook page.

*Names changed for privacy

Help Shape the Future of Tech

Transcend IT’s work has just begun, and you can take part in its mission to diversify the tech landscape. Here’s how you can get involved:

Hire a Transcend IT Program Graduate

Get in contact with a member of the Transcend IT team and meet highly qualified students from the program.

Spread the Word

Connect people in your network looking for candidates or thinking about a career change themselves to the program.

Donate

Help support Transcend IT by donating to the program via their website or participating in their upcoming Give to the Max campaign.

Transcend IT is a non-profit organization dedicated to working with women and people of color to move into technology careers by providing a framework of education, job skills training, financial literacy, career placement, and continual mentorship and guidance. To learn more about the program or to get involved, visit transcendit-mn.org.