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The Software Development and Tech Apprenticeship program, part of the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs at Discovery Partners Institute, was awarded access to $500,000 to work with leading Chicago employers to train a more diverse tech workforce. The award came via a competition judged by employers and organized by P33, collaborative effort led by Chicago business and tech leaders across the private and public-sector to transform Chicago into a tier one technology and innovation hub and promote inclusive economic growth.

The funds are part of the Good Jobs Challenge, a $500 million U.S. Economic Development Administration program to help people retrain for careers in industries like tech, health care and manufacturing.

To win the award, DPI competed against six other tech talent development programs in a shark-tank-like pitch session where the employers were the judges. Each of the seven finalists had nine minutes to convince the employers to pick the best program. After the presentations were through, DPI was awarded the Employers Choice Award granting access to the training funds.

More than 100 people from more than 30 companies attended the event earlier this month.

“We could not be more thrilled by this recognition. It’s an honor to receive an endorsement for our work from the kinds of companies who can most benefit from the skilled and diverse tech talent we are developing at DPI through our software development apprenticeship program.” said Mark Harris, director of DPI’s Pritzker Tech Talent Labs, which operates the apprenticeships. “We thank P33 for setting up this important convening of employers, and want to recognize all of the entities who participated in the pitch competition, as we all drive towards developing a more inclusive tech workforce in Chicago.”

DPI and its Pritzker Tech Talent Labs are part of the University of Illinois System.

The other workforce programs that participated in the event are Catalytei.c.stars, The Mom Project, Coding Temple, City Colleges of Chicago and Per Scholas. Companies looking to add diverse talent can access the funds on a rolling basis, and will partner with DPI’s program to make it happen.

The Software Development and Tech Apprenticeship program works hand-in-hand with adult learners and corporate partners over an intense 15-month span with three distinct phases. The program begins with a 2-month online course in software development basics, followed by a 3-month in-person training at DPI’s downtown headquarters, and, last, a 10-month apprenticeship working onsite with the employer.

DPI works with trainees and corporate partners intensively and constantly from the very beginning through the hiring process, customizing the program to skills and roles companies need. Trainees receive a stipend during the program so they can concentrate fully on learning new skills.

In 2022, the EDA’s American Rescue Plan announced 32 recipients of the Good Jobs Challenge. With $500M given nationally, Chicago was awarded $18.5M. The program runs through Sept. 30, 2025. Employers may join on a rolling basis until that date.

Learn more about DPI

Learn more about DPI’s apprenticeship program

Learn more about P33

Learn more about the Good Jobs Challenge

DPI’s Matthew Klein, Sanjuana Jiame-Nix, Morgan Diamond and Mark Harris.

DPI’s Matthew Klein, Sanjuana Jiame-Nix, Morgan Diamond and Mark Harris.