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Technological Empowerment: Codetalk @ St. Joseph Center

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The St. Joseph Center in Venice, Calif. serves low-income families and individuals in the area by empowering them with tools for self-support. One of the programs the center operates is Codetalk, a digital technology job training program for women. It’s a rigorous 15-week vocational program in which women immerse themselves in web design practices and principles.

Enrollees attend classes from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. five days a week. Coursework runs the gamut of web development, project management, user interface and user experience design (UI/UX), and digital communication.

A high proportion of women enrolled in Codetalk are homeless. They might live in vehicles, some are asylum seekers, and every one of them comes from a set of extraordinary circumstances. “If somebody doesn’t show up for class, often it’s because their car was towed, or can’t afford a bus token,” says Sharon Plunkett, program manager for Codetalk.

A UX technologist and software engineer by trade, Plunkett took the reins of the Codetalk program two years ago. Her previous work familiarized her with the Newegg brand, her longtime go-to for computer parts and other technology products. She learned about NeweggBusiness when trying to find pricing and fulfillment on MacBook Air laptop computers that Codetalk issues to enrollees at the beginning of each 15-week session.

At first, Plunkett asked the manufacturer for a quote on the laptop computers. When Apple came back with a proposal, she suspected that Newegg could offer a better deal so she reached out and eventually got in touch with NeweggBusiness Account Executive Maury Santamaria.

“I have a duty to the students to use the budget as best I can,” Plunkett says. “It’s the toughest part of the job. We need access to the best equipment at the lowest prices we can get it.”

Staying within the cost confines often necessitates free shipping and supporting the completion of tax-exemption paperwork, which NeweggBusiness was able to provide for St. Joseph Center. Plunkett characterizes her organizational credit card situation as “awkward” at times, echoing a somewhat common pain point for professionals working in nonprofits.

“I’m impressed most by the responsiveness and humanity on the other end of the phone,” Plunkett says. “I felt like anyone who talked to me gave added effort once they learned about our mission here.”

Graduates of Codetalk substantiate the success of the program with a 95 percent employment rate after completing the coursework.  The computers students use are an important tool both during the class, and after graduation.

“We don’t broadcast that students keep the computers after they graduate,” Plunkett says. “It’s part of offering a continuum of care. This is a vocational program so they can find a career that pays well, and for that you need to have the tools for the job.”

Are you interested in supporting Codetalk at St. Joseph Center? Find information about how to make contribution online.

Adam Lovinus

Adam Lovinus

A tech writer and Raspberry Pi enthusiast from Orange County, California.

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