Dallas Morning News

Norma Adams-Wade

Efforts to stamp out poverty in Dallas got a boost when the city was picked as the nation’s fifth to house a free information technology training program to help lift the low-income, unemployed and underemployed out of hardship.

The Dallas location of the nonprofit Per Scholas IT training program opened in March at CitySquare’s Opportunity Center, 1610 S. Malcolm X Blvd., Suite 380. The program graduated its second class of students on Aug. 7, and will begin a new session Aug. 20.

Per Scholas advocates encourage people who want to better their circumstances but lack money for training to explore the free IT program.

CitySquare president and CEO Larry James and Dallas Per Scholas managing director Billy Lane said in prepared statements that they are excited about how the program will help those in need.

“CitySquare and Per Scholas hit it off immediately, and we feel very fortunate,” James said.

“I’m excited to bring this effective work to the community,” Lane said.

Experts will teach IT skills that employers say are needed in the industry and their companies to help their ever-advancing computer and telecommunication systems store, retrieve, organize and transmit information.

The Dallas program joins centers in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Silver Spring, Md.; and New York City, where the program was founded as a computer recycling service in the South Bronx in 1995 and evolved into a training program in 1998.

Applicants should be committed to the program, which meets from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for eight weeks and discourages tardiness. But promoters say work and discipline pay off. Graduates get help landing entry-level help desk and technical support jobs and receive continued counseling. Annual salaries rise from a pre-training average of $7,000 to a post-training average of $30,000 and up.

The program has been endorsed by Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, and it has partnerships with more than 50 major area corporations and business and civic leaders, including the Boone Family Foundation, AT&T Inc., United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the office of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.