Creating IL Talent Program Delivers App Development Training to Women and Minorities in Chicago

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Published on May. 14, 2014
Creating IL Talent Program Delivers App Development Training to Women and Minorities in Chicago

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Left to right: Veronia Buitron (Co-Founder GeneXus USA), Ava St. Clair (Creating IL Talent participant), Fetesha Downs (Creating IL Talent participant), Emile Cambry (Founder Blue 1647), Vau’ve Davis (Creating IL Talent participant), State of Illinois Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas, Dorri McWhorter (CEO YWCA Metropolitan Chicago), Tiffany Mikell (Creating IL Talent participant)

My software company, GeneXus USA, just launched an incredible new initiative, that will do more to advance women in technology than any of our previous endeavors.

The program, called, “Creating IL Talent,” creates opportunities for women and minorities to realize technical talents. Our goal is to bring much needed diversity to Chicago’s booming tech sector.

Governor Quinn and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) are co-sponsoring Creating IL Talent, and we’ve partnered with the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago to recruit 13 exceptional women for the pilot program. Another founding partner, providing meeting space and support, is Blue 1647, the highly buzzed-about tech innovation center, in Chicago’s chronically underserved Pilsen neighborhood. 

Here’s how it works:

On Saturdays, over the next five months, one of our most experienced engineers, Carlos Canessa, will teach the women to build web and mobile apps. They’ll learn by building an application, of their own design, using GeneXus - the software development platform we both sell and use, in-house.  Those who complete the course and final exam will receive a GeneXus Professional License, free, for one-year.  Along with our partners, we’ll provide professional development, networking, placement and entrepreneurial support, so graduates can quickly translate their technical skills into promising careers. 

[ibimage==36550==Large==none==self==ibimage_align-center]Program participants, hard at work, at an introductory HTML/CSS class, held at Blue 1647, last Saturday. 

Here’s why:  Chicago leads the nation in growth-stage technology companies, and we’re reshaping the industry, in our multicultural image. 

There are +1,000 growing tech companies, in Chicago, and they’re adding tens of thousands of jobs.  Kevin McKeough, of Crain's, said it best:

These jobs include not only software developers, which Chicago needs more than warm weather. There also are abundant opportunities for sales and marketing professionals who understand tech and how to promote it. And as tech companies grow out of infancy, they typically need executive leaders…” 

Sustaining this kind of growth requires an immense and diverse talent pool.  Yet, nationwide, women and minorities are woefully underrepresented in technology professions and alarmingly scare in executive roles. While Chicago’s tech scene comes of age, we have a chance to remake the industry, in our splendidly multicultural image. Creating IL Talent aims to do just that, by beating a direct path, for women and minorities, to enter a field historically dominated by white men. 

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Our vision: A marketplace of applications, built in Chicago, that represents the diversity of lives, built in Chicago.  

When they complete the program, these women will have the training, tools and experience necessary to meet challenges in the workplace and their communities, with bold, new software solutions. More importantly, we will create 13 role models, who can stand as share what they learn with for the next generation of aspiring female innovators and tech entrepreneurs, as I am striving to do for them. 

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Hear pilot program participant, Tiffany Mikell, speak about her ambitions for Creating IL Talent, at this Monday's launch event:

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of9ZCKcrFio&feature=share&list=UUR7L-qOZkdTtb2NK-39MvAQ]

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