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As part of the Speaker’s commitment to fostering diversity, inclusion and equity in tech workforce development, the Council is funding a pilot program geared toward NYCHA residents. Through this funding, Coalition 4 Queens and Per Scholas will provide training in IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, and software development. This training will then be considered as qualifications for hiring in lieu of a Bachelor’s Degree by 11 companies who have signed onto the initiative’s pledge. Additional pledge commitments include additional corporate resources to aid curriculum development, continued evaluation of the minimum requirements for technical roles, and development of new practices to increase the retention of diverse talent.

Tech 51 is the direct result of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Task Force convened by the Speaker in August 2016. This pilot program will recruit and support diverse technologists entering two successful IT training workforce organizations, Per Scholas and Coalition for Queens (C4Q) by focusing on public housing residents. The funding ($220K in FY2017 and $700K in FY2018) will deepen the recruitment efforts and technology training for residents of NYCHA, in partnership with the authority’s Office of Resident Economic Empowerment and Sustainability, and support individuals and their families who are interested in tech careers, but have previously been unable to access critical training and placement support.

Participating companies signed the initiative’s pledge, which includes commitments to considering training completion in lieu of a Bachelor’s Degree, re-evaluating minimum requirements for technical roles, investing corporate time to support the program’s curriculum through volunteerism, and evaluating practices around retention of diverse talent in technical roles.

Confirmed employer partners feature technology firms, start-up organizations, and financial services companies. The companies that have signed on so far are: Alvarez & Marsal, Barclays, Blackstone, Harry’s, Intersection, Kickstarter, Managed by Q, Plated, Techstars, Troops, Yahoo.

On August 16, 2016, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito formed the New York City Diversity Task Force with Coalition for Queens and Per Scholas, two organizations that recruit potential tech talent citywide and provide intensive workforce development training programs in IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, and software development. The Speaker’s Office convened leaders from New York City’s top tech employers to identify action steps to improve the sector’s diversity, especially of low-income people of color.

These efforts demonstrated Speaker Mark-Viverito’s continued commitment to diversity in the city’s fastest growing economic sectors, such as providing additional support for MWBEs, sustainability for worker cooperatives, and expansion of Summer Youth Employment in the FY17 and FY18 City Budget.

Speaker Mark-Viverito previously partnered with technology leaders on a wide-ranging set of program initiatives, including a Digital Literacy Series with the Mozilla Foundation, the 2015 Council 2.0 roadmap with civic engagement experts, annual Digital Inclusion Summits with Civic Hall, and the implementation of Participatory Budgeting digital voting sites with Google and Microsoft. Most recently, Speaker Mark-Viverito launched the Rapid Response Lab series to aid community organizations working on criminal justice and immigration issues to expand technology innovation work.

NYCHA residents interested in applying can call the REES Hotline at 718-289-8100 or online at

Employers interested in joining the Tech51 Pledge can email