Non-profit Detroit tech training program offers job placement to help diversify workforce

Circumstances forced Camron Williams to quit college and work a job to make ends meet. Then she discovered NPower, a Detroit IT training program that in a matter of months provides certification, an internship, and most importantly job placement with a tech company.

"I can't even begin to think about what I would have been doing," said Williams.

The 20-year-old now has a job at Microsoft in Detroit.

"Anytime you hear something is free like you are really skeptical," she said. "At first I wasn't going to take the opportunity, but then I did some research and saw what it did for others, and they are like me. Why not take that opportunity, so I stepped out on faith and took the risk and this is my reward."

NPower instructors teach basic coding skills, cybersecurity, and high tech fundamentals. The program is mainly funded by Fund II Foundation, the foundation backed by Robert Smith. The billionaire tech investor wanted to help underserved Detroit area students get high tech and high paying jobs.

"That's why I do this, that's why this team in Detroit is so committed and Camron is just one," said Camile Walker Banks, NPower executive director. "There are 21 other students who are placed with Google, Little Caesars Arena, Microsoft, and RT Software Solutions. Now they have a chance."

Banks says the pandemic is forcing more people to work from home. But unfortunately, many minorities in Detroit have been unable to work remotely.

The training program, which will be taught virtually starting in September helps to close that gap.

"We will be addressing the digital divide, we have the equipment we have Wi-Fi hot spots other types of resources that are typically barriers for early adulating young people," she said.

All 18 to 25-year-olds are invited to apply, but Banks is really putting out the plea to females especially women of color. 

"I am receiving a lot of young men, and I am happy about that," she said. "But I am not receiving young women. I have a lot of applications so I know that means that I need to be more intentional in my outreach to attract young women. So what I ask is that young ladies take me up on this. We will have your back, you will be educated properly, lovingly, and you will be placed in an opportunity that you had no idea existed for you."

Just ask Camron, you won't regret it.

"If you are willing to step out and face a challenge head-on, that is what makes the difference," she said. "Anyone can do it, especially a woman because I think women do it better anyways."

NPower is accepting applications right now.

Virtual classes start in September.