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CompTIA's foundation work shifts to emphasize community partnerships

Been running so fast since I attended the CompTIA Breakaway conference earlier this month that I haven’t had time to report on my conversation with the executive director of the organization’s Educational Foundation, Charles Eaton. He has only been in his role for a few months, but already Eaton is pushing hard on CompTIA members to do their part in helping at-risk youth, disable individuals, displaced workers and military personnel/families prepare for high-tech careers.

According to Eaton, statistics show that there are something like 450,000 jobs open right now in the IT industry, but there aren’t enough qualified people to fill them. Kind of runs counter to the statistics you read about unemployment, doesn’t it?

One example of CompTIA’s work in this regard is its partnership with the Chicago Academy, a charter school. The foundation made a donation of $150,000 earlier this year that Eaton says will be focused on two different areas: using technology to engage students in the teaching process and teaching skills for careers where IT knowledge is crucial, including options like fashion design. “We are trying to pull them away from a life where 50 percent of high school students [in this community] aren’t graduating,” Eaton says. Two other organizations that have been recent beneficiaries of CompTIA funding are the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and the Fast Forward Community Technology Center in Columbia, S.C.

Eaton is still defining his priorities, but one thing is already clear: CompTIA’s foundation will continue to emphasize community impact over donating to specific individuals. It also is strongly encouraging members to donate of their services and talents, which will be matched by CompTIA in the form of in-kind services and a limited pool of cash grants equally from $250,000 to $300,000.

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