Goodwill wins grant to provide IT training

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Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado has been chosen to receive a $300,000 grant, as a leader in the organization’s digital skills expansion and training.

The Colorado Springs nonprofit is one of 10 nationwide Goodwill organizations recognized as a Digital Change Agent. The grant will be used to further the information technology training of about 170 individuals over the next three years.

“There is a huge need in our community for these professionals,” said RJay Cressey, who has been with Goodwill in the Springs for about three years as the LIFT life enhancement specialist. (LIFT stands for learn, improve, focus and thrive.)

Cressey said the program will primarily be set up to further the IT education of individuals who are already working in the field but might need further certification, or for those who have an IT background but might have been out of the workforce in recent times. He said people looking to enter the IT field could also apply for the program.

The program will provide Security+ training for those seeking to improve their marketability in the IT field by obtaining cybersecurity certification. Training is free and geared toward IT professionals who have networking and administrative skills in Windows-based TCP/IP networks and familiarity with other operating systems such as OSX, Unix and Linux.

“Most of the jobs in our area are looking for the Security+ certification, so that’s what we’re focusing on,” Cressey said.

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The goal is to enroll 40 individuals in the program the first year, about 55 in the second year and 75 in the third.

Discover Goodwill’s comprehensive training program will give participants the required knowledge to pass the CompTIA Security+ certification — combining online and in-person coursework. Customized training is available to employers that enroll multiple employees, and flexible study hours are available, including daytime, evenings and weekends.

Additional program benefits include:

  • Live facilitator support and case management
  • Job placement and retention assistance
  • Paid voucher for certification exam
  • Practice quizzes and online learning materials
  • Hands-on learning workshops
  • Resumé building and interview prep
  • Internships are available

The local grant is part of a $10 million grant from Google, with most of the 125 participating Goodwill organizations benefitting from smaller portions.

The local Goodwill, which serves 40 of Colorado’s 64 counties, aided 81,557 individuals in 2016, helping 9,731 people gain employment and providing job training and career services to 29,673 individuals.

“We try to make people more marketable, and our outreach program has been working with local businesses for about 20 years,” said Bradd Hafer, Goodwill’s local director of marketing and communications.

Hafer said the organization assisted a similar number of people in 2017, although numbers are not yet finalized.

“We are working to fulfill our mission to bring people to greater independence,” Hafer said, “and this [grant] helps us with one of those business enterprise models.”

Interested individuals or organizations can begin the application process by contacting Miriam Yost at 719-381-9463 or email myost@discovermygoodwill.org. Additional IT training courses include A+ and Network+.