American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation 2019 grant portal opens today
Non-profit organizations that meet giving criteria are invited to apply for grants. Learn how one grant recipient organization is helping build a more skilled workforce and better lives for its clients.
Community organizations are invited to apply for the first cycle of grants in 2019 from the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation beginning today, Feb. 18. Interested organizations can find details on the application process and our grant priority areas by visiting the Community Investment sections of the American Family Insurance Newsroom or the Making a Difference section on the company’s website.
One organization’s story: LaunchCode helps build in-demand workforce
One of the organizations benefiting from a Dreams Foundation grant is LaunchCode, founded in 2013 by Jim McKelvey in his hometown of St. Louis. McKelvey had difficulty finding a local, skilled workforce for his new technology company, Square, which meant he had to find talent in another state. But he was committed to finding a way to connect the city’s unemployment rate with its shortage of tech talent – and LaunchCode was born.
Since then LaunchCode has been building a skilled workforce and changing lives by creating pathways for driven people seeking careers in technology. They help jobseekers from all walks of life by providing accessible education and training, free of charge, and paid apprenticeship job placement. This, in turn, provides companies with the talent they need to meet a growing demand and fill a widening workforce gap. LaunchCode has since expanded to locations in Kansas City, Miami and Tampa.
LaunchCode serves a diverse client base and seeks to provide help to those who need it most, such as low- and moderate-income individuals who may not have the resources for a traditional education path.
LaunchCode offers several educational and training programs, which lead to placement in apprenticeships that provide not only valuable experience, but pay and benefits. A large majority move on to rewarding careers in high-demand fields. In fact, four out of five LaunchCode program participants who complete apprenticeships convert to permanent employees.
LaunchCode’s CoderGirl – preparing women for promising technology careers
CoderGirl is one of the most popular programs offered by LaunchCode. The Dreams Foundation awarded a grant to LaunchCode to support CoderGirl in 2019.
Since women are under-represented in technology careers, CoderGirl offers a safe working space, exclusively for women, who take part in a year-long program that includes a challenging curriculum and apprenticeships.
As part of the program, participants learn a series of coding languages, have assigned mentors and receive individualized attention. They also develop their own coding projects for a personal passion, or even a current employer. More than 300 women will go through the popular program in 2019.
Meet Lilly A – CoderGirl success story
In high school, Lilly A. was interested in computer programming and coding. Unfortunately she was discouraged by people who told her, as a woman, she wouldn’t get a job in technology. After working in tech support for a few months, she was laid off due to her lack of formal computer science education. Lilly began to lose hope in a tech career after being turned down by multiple companies.
“I was convinced because I didn’t have a college degree, I’d never achieve my goals," she said.
After a few months of being unemployed, it became even more difficult for Lilly to get interviews. So she began filling time by participating in several hobbies and studying to improve her coding skills.
However, this all changed when Lilly enrolled in LaunchCode's CoderGirl Program in 2016.
"CoderGirl is what helped me the most," she said. "The mentors were always willing to help me when I had questions about projects that I was working on. The greatest thing I gained was self-confidence. Because of LaunchCode and CoderGirl, I learned that I wasn’t just a hobbyist programmer. I could actually use my skills in the real world."
Today, Lilly is working as a software developer for The Phoenix Group, a job which she landed through LaunchCode's Apprenticeship program and has helped her double her family's household income.
"LaunchCode has not only given me back my career, but they have also given me back myself," Lilly said. "With their help, I was able to pull myself out of what seemed like an endless downward spiral. I will never again allow my lack of formal education to keep me from being successful. I have LaunchCode to thank for that and I am eternally grateful."
Dreams Foundation’s impact
Jeff Mazur, LaunchCode executive director, said LaunchCode is honored the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation committed to a grant in support of the CoderGirl Program.
“CoderGirl's mission is twofold in that it provides pathways to family-sustaining wages for women of all backgrounds and also helps fill our region's tech talent gap by matching CoderGirls directly to companies experiencing a talent shortage,” said Mazur. “We're thrilled the Dreams Foundation has chosen to support this mission and provide equitable opportunities to women entering the tech workforce."
American Family Insurance and its Dreams Foundation continue to have a significant impact in communities across the nation. Since 2016, the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation and American Family Insurance have committed $8.9 million through more than 500 grants across its operating territory.
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About American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation
The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation, Inc. builds on our long-standing commitment and support of our communities. As our mission has evolved from corporate giving to community investing, we’ve turned our focus to creating strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations that have helped us strengthen both families and communities. For more information, see the Making a Difference page of amfam.com or the Community Investment page of the Newsroom.