The University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) has joined over 30 other universities, and our education technology partner 2U, in launching a new scholarship fund to expand access to career-accelerating boot camps. As the economic fallout of COVID-19 continues to mount, certain demographic groups have been impacted disproportionately by the crisis. The Boot Camp Scholarship Fund provides pathways to secure employment for people of color and women, who have suffered the most job losses to coronavirus and are underrepresented in the technology industry.
The Penn LPS Boot Camps have already prepared hundreds of adult learners with the in-demand skills necessary for careers in high-growth digital fields. Now, people of color and women who have experienced recent job loss or financial hardship are eligible to apply for a $2,500 discount toward any one of the four cutting-edge boot camp courses in coding, cybersecurity, data analysis and visualization, or financial technology. All participants, whether or not they receive scholarships, also have the option of spreading out the cost of tuition into monthly installments with no interest.
Rita McGlone, Executive Director of the Professional and Organizational Development team at Penn LPS, says the impetus for these scholarships is twofold. “People of color and women have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic devastation and are vastly underrepresented in the technology industry. At this critical moment in history, as the pandemic continues to reveal and exacerbate systemic inequality in our society, we are committed to making the Penn LPS Boot Camps accessible to underrepresented candidates. Our boot camps provide an ideal opportunity for adult learners to upskill and reskill for careers in exciting fields with huge potential for growth,” she says. Rita notes that increasing diversity in technology is not only a moral and economic imperative, but will also result in better technology products that take the needs and experiences of all users into account.
US Labor Department statistics show that more than 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the start of the coronavirus crisis in the US in March. Women and people of color have been hit hardest. According to the Harvard Business Review, this uneven impact reflects glaring issues of inequality throughout the labor force: Firstly, that people of color and women are overrepresented in the industries that have been disrupted by the crisis, such as hospitality, health, and retail. Additionally, outside of these high-layoff-risk industries, women and people of color tend to fill lower-authority positions and have shorter tenures, making them more vulnerable to losing their jobs. These disparities, coupled with the persistent underrepresentation of people of color and women in the technology industry, prompted Penn LPS to participate in the Boot Camp Scholarship Fund.
Penn LPS Boot Camps are offered in partnership with Trilogy Education, a 2U, Inc. brand; most are part-time 24-week programs, though 12-week, full-time courses are also available. The Penn LPS Coding Boot Camp guides students to become full-stack web developers, proficient in front- and back-end technologies. The Penn Cybersecurity Boot Camp covers the fundamentals of defensive and offensive cybersecurity. In the Penn Data Analysis and Visualization Boot Camp, students learn to analyze and solve complex data problems using industry-standard technologies. Lastly, the Penn LPS FinTech Boot Camp gives students marketable financial tech skills in the areas of machine learning, blockchain, and programming.
Penn LPS joins over 30 other universities also participating in the Boot Camp Scholarship Fund. In total, $3 million in scholarship money will be distributed to students across the country, starting them on fulfilling and well-paying career paths in an industry hungry for their talent.