Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (Sunset Park)’s TechSTART Program is a profiled program in the Plugging In Report.
Who is served: Out-of-school youth ages 17–24
Number of participants served annually: 66
Location: Industry City, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Frequency/Duration: Monday to Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m., 12 weeks
Eligibility Criteria: Must be a 17- to 24-year-old New York City resident with authorization to work in the U.S., high school diploma or equivalent (TASC or GED), and a basic level of computer skills. Applicants must also be able to commit to full-time training, as well as transitioning into full-time employment upon completion of the program. Food stamp recipients are encouraged to apply.
Application process: Online application, in-person interviews, and assessment tasks
Curriculum: Cloud support engineering
Skill level: Intro
Outcomes: Freelance consultant work, advanced coding education, job placement assistance
Partnerships: OBT’s TechSTART program is presented in partnership with Generation, a global youth workforce organization. OBT also partners with employers, including tech companies and tech-adjacent companies in retail, hospitality, and healthcare looking for individuals with a more advanced technical skill set. Nonprofit partnerships include joint training programs and referrals for continued career pathways, including Green-Wood Cemetery; Brooklyn Workforce Innovations; Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation; SCO – Center for Family Life. OBT also partners with 3 transfer schools through a pilot program with New Visions for Public Schools and JobsFirst NYC, and dozens of schools for referral and outreach.
Cost: Free; pays a daily stipend for transportation and lunch
Sources of funding: About 70 percent from government contracts and 30 percent from foundations, corporations, and individual giving.
What makes this program stand out? TechSTART offers 12-week immersive training for out-of-school youth with limited work experience and a basic level of computer skills. Upon completion of the program, participants receive assistance with job placement including the opportunity to interview for full-time employment with one of OBT’s partner employers. Participants acquire foundational skills that can lead to employment or advanced tech training. The curriculum was previously focused on web development but now focuses on cloud support engineering.
Students are also eligible to participate in an internship program to apply and practice their technology skills. Students are paired with Industry City tenants, where OBT is located, and businesses to assist in cloud computing and advanced IT support.
What do participants need to succeed? Participants must be committed to full-time employment and passionate about tech, but unlike Per Scholas and Pursuit, for instance, TechSTART does not require participants to pass a basic academic assessment. It’s considered a “bridge program,” as it provides tutoring for students whose math and reading skills are not strong enough to keep up with the curriculum.
What does the organization need? Employers interested in hiring our participants for cloud computing or advanced IT roles. Employers can also support the program by providing internships, guest speakers, and coordinating site visits to further expose participants to the tech sector.