Connect 313 Grant Supports Digital Equity Work at Per Scholas

Connect 313 Grant Supports Digital Equity Work at Per Scholas

“Per scholas” is a Latin phrase meaning “through the schools.” In Detroit, Per Scholas translates to a successful nonprofit delivering no-cost, hands-on tech training in the city and across Southeast Michigan. 

Founded in New York in 1995, Per Scholas came to Detroit in 2019 with the mission of advancing economic equity by training participants for tech careers and connecting skilled job candidates to local businesses eager to diversify their talent base. 

“Since our launch in Detroit, we’ve trained 350 individuals in different IT careers and have consistently achieved 85 percent employment rates for our graduates, who earn industry recognized certifications in five IT tracks,” said Senior Managing Director of Per Scholas Detroit, Dr. JR Sledge. 

Dr. Sledge says Per Scholas changes the trajectory of adult learners who are caught in the digital divide and have limited resources. The nonprofit does this by offering its career-ready training in both classroom and remote settings and establishing partnerships with businesses hungry for the program’s qualified tech talent. 

Funding Digital Equity

And that’s why Connect 313 provided Per Scholas with a generous $50,000 grant to support its continued work in digital equity and inclusion.

“With Connect 313’s support, Per Scholas is able to provide learners with the tech devices they need, deliver immersive IT training, and give students the confidence to effectively work in a professional setting,” Dr. Sledge shared.

In fact, Dr. Sledge estimates that Per Scholas graduates earn as much as eight times the salary they did before their training. Students are required to begin working following graduation, with the goal of discovering their tech niche and returning to upskill through additional Per Scholas training.

“Importantly, our learners are making an economic impact on the area because as higher wage earners they are stronger consumers,” Dr. Sledge explained. “What’s more, Per Scholas graduates are adding much needed diversity to tech businesses throughout the region. And we know that a more diverse workforce translates into more successful enterprises.

“Per Scholas is committed, deliberate and intentional about creating opportunities for a diversity of people in the IT space and helping to ensure economic equity and inclusion,” Dr. Sledge continued. “We aim to shift the current landscape of IT professionals and continue to change lives.” 

Visit to learn more about cost-free training for an IT career.

Read More

Dr. JR Sledge is a Leader in IT Training

Dr. JR Sledge is a Leader in IT Training

Born and raised in Detroit, Dr. JR Sledge was taught early on to dream big. 

“I learned that I could achieve whatever I put my mind to,” he says. “This was instilled in me at home and within the Detroit Public School system. As a result, I’m compelled to pay it forward and help others reach their potential.”

Paying it forward is exactly what JR is doing. He’s Detroit’s Senior Managing Director at Per Scholas, a national nonprofit that aims to advance equity and diversity in the tech industry. He is also Connect 313’s newly elected chair of the Structure and Operations Committee and a Connect 313 board member. It’s a role he eagerly took on after connecting with former colleagues who suggested he participate in our election process. 

“My areas of focus are all things Detroit and all things equity,” he says. “As a leader in IT training and Workforce development, it’s my aim to facilitate, not only the closure of the digital divide, but also the closure of the economic divide as it relates to tech for people of color. For me, this work begins with structure, policy, and guidelines.”

JR earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at University of Detroit Mercy and a Doctor of Education degree from Wayne State University. He previously served as an adjunct professor for Wayne County Community College, assistant superintendent at Inkster Public Schools, and an employment outreach specialist in the Civil Rights Inclusion office of the City of Detroit. 

In his new role at Connect 313, JR is committed to making sure the voices, values, and needs of all Detroit residents come first – no matter their zip code. He’s using his knowledge and experience to ensure equitable opportunities for all with a focus on simplicity and efficiency.

“I love the pride of the people of Detroit. Our city’s ability to lead and set trends that the rest of the world follows is like no other place on the planet,” he says. “Together, we will close the digital divide in our region.”

Have an idea for bridging the digital divide in Detroit? Let us know on our suggestions page here:

Read More