When Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2014, it elicited a flurry of responses in the Black community. Protests, calls for justice, grief, and a call to action.

The call to action was heeded by the late rock star, Prince, and Van Jones, a CNN commentator and author. They created Dream Corps TECH.

They wanted to take a piece of clothing as simple as a hoodie – and change the narrative behind it. They had observed that Black youth wearing hoodies were often characterized as thugs while their non-Black peers in the same attire were assumed to be dot-com billionaires.

Dream Corps Tech is a national program cultivating future leaders and entrepreneurs from under-represented backgrounds, creating a pipeline of diverse talent, with the goal of shifting the culture of the tech sector.

It acts in four ways:
– Training: Provide technical and soft skills training to untapped talent from under-represented communities to secure guaranteed full-time employment in tech-related fields

– Engaging: Through various modalities of media and technology, provide resources and tools for connection, education and professional maturation

– Changing: Construct and influence policy at the state and federal level to undergird the equitable work we are doing for inclusivity in the tech industry

– Humanizing: Inject soul into the conversation on tech diversity and its critical mass in this moment in history

Dream Corps Tech is now soliciting applications for its next round of scholarships. The deadline is October 14.

These are $1,500 scholarships that can be used to start any qualified technical certification program or applied towards a technical certification that is in progress or recently completed.

The scholarship fund is made possible with the support of the PwC Charitable Foundation and contributions from Favor Delivery and AnswerLab.

Dream Corps Tech is just one of the programs under the umbrella of Dream Corps, founded by Jones. Other programs focus on reforming the criminal justice system and building a green economy.

Noah Oki is a former scholarship recipient. He’s a pioneer in his family as a first-generation college student. He used his scholarship to further his career in cybersecurity.

“My biggest takeaway from the scholarship experience has been to never stop trying and to always have confidence in yourself,” Oki told inter-TECH-ion.

Who’s Eligible to Apply?

– Black, Latinx, Native American, Native Alaskan, and Southeast Asian individuals aged 18 to 45

– High school graduates or professionals looking for new career opportunities

– Eligible technical certifications: AWS Certified Solutions Architect, Certified Data Professional (CDP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Scrum Master (CSM) CompTIA A+ and more

Apply here.