Goodwill Lands $1.5M Grant To Expand Free Tech Training

May 1, 2018

Goodwill's efforts to expand free technology training in Charlotte got another boost Tuesday — a $1.5 million grant from a big tech services company. 

New Jersey-based Cognizant announced it's setting up a $100 million foundation to help train people for technology jobs across the country. Its first grant of $1.5 million is going to Goodwill Industries, on Wilkinson Boulevard near the airport. Goodwill could wind up supplying workers for the company, but there's a broader goal says chief executive Francisco D'Souza.

CEO Chris Jackson of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont (right) speaks Tuesday as Goodwill received a $1.5 million grant from the Cognizant U.S. Foundation. Listening are (from left) U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and Cognizant CEO Frank D'Souza.
Credit Goodwill/Cognizant U.S. Foundation

"We want to create a digital workforce that can seek out employment opportunities across the many sectors of the economy that are being changed by digital technology today," D'Souza said. "And some of those opportunities will be with Cognizant but many of them will be outside of Cognizant." 

The company said it has about 3,000 employees in North Carolina, including 900 or so in Charlotte.

The grant will help expand Charlotte's Goodwill University which provides free digital literacy and advanced technology training, especially for people who face barriers to economic mobility such as a lack of education or criminal records.

Goodwill plans to use the cash to expand advanced training and build a new digital training lab, according to its chief executive Chris Jackson.

"We'll be able to serve an additional 4,000 people to receive these trainings over the next three years," Jackson said. "We're targeting about 400 to receive industry-recognized credentials."

Jackson says training and certifications will include areas such as computer help desk, cloud computing, Salesforce administration and software development.  

This is Goodwill's second large grant in recent weeks. Last month, it received $300,000 from Google — also to expand advanced training.

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