Digital Upskills Sacramento Program Will Offer Residents a Laptop, Training, Pay

The program, capitalized with $787,650 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, is aimed at providing new job skills to 40 people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg emphasized the impact it could have on a larger scale in the city, if expanded.

The city of Sacramento, the Greater Sacramento Urban League and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council on Monday announced the Digital Upskill Sacramento Program. Started in partnership with General Assembly and Merit America, it is intended to provide new job skills to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic through full-time, virtual learning and projects.

Potential participants, especially those from underrepresented communities seeking professions in technology, will vie for 40 spots in the program through an application and admissions process in early October. Those who are selected will receive a free laptop and receive job skill and technology training for nine weeks while being paid $600 per week. The program will end in December with each enrollee receiving a digital certificate in information technology support or data analytics.

The Greater Sacramento Urban League has said participants will continue to receive career counseling and support until they secure a job.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg emphasized the impact this program could have on a larger scale in the city if expanded. He praised its ability in allowing people to be participants in the community’s economy.

“The promise of this program is that it connects all the dots: Participants are provided with high quality instruction and a basic income that will allow them to complete their training without economic hardship, and then they are placed in jobs,” Steinberg said.

With more jobs relying on digital skills, program leaders envisioned the initiative as a possible solution to lift those in disadvantaged communities out of poverty. When COVID-19 hit Sacramento, the inequalities in the communities became more stark.

The program is being funded with $787,650 from CARES Act money the city of Sacramento received and Greater Sacramento Economic Council applied for.

“There’s no sign of letup in the speed at which the workplace is becoming digitized,” said Cassandra Jennings, Greater Sacramento Urban League president. “We thank the city of Sacramento for recognizing this and investing a significant amount of CARES Act relief funding to assist COVID impacted and displaced workers, as well as uplift our most vulnerable Sacramento city residents. It took the crisis of a pandemic to realize the adverse impact of the digital divide in our city and throughout the region.”

Barry Broome, GSEC president and CEO, emphasized that the program will be an important first step in uplifiting disadvantaged communities in Sacramento.

“Our community needs to learn how to bring skills into the modern economy and see all people as an asset ready to bring value to the Sacramento region. Training our future workforce to make sure they have the digital skill sets is imperative as we build an inclusive economy throughout the Sacramento region,” Broome said.

General Assembly Senior Director Tom Ogletree is excited to see the program become an example for similar programs across the nation.

“We believe Sacramento will be an important model for the country to learn from as we face the collective task of helping our neighbors and communities re-skill for the high-demand jobs of the recovery, which more than ever before will demand digital skills and competencies,” Ogletree said.

Those interested in enrolling in the program must live in Sacramento, have a high school diploma or GED and must fill out the program’s interest survey. Leaders in the initiative hope to have 400 applications by Friday.

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