The AdelanTech Leadership Program is designed to help people in rural areas gain technology skills and leadership training even while they work or attend school full time.
“We were struck by the proximity of Silicon Valley with the Salinas Valley,” said Ken McNeely, president of AT&T California, which is financially backing the program. “They’re just 50 miles from each other yet worlds apart.”
Seeking a more diverse workforce, AT&T realized that the kind of people it hoped to attract lacked opportunities to learn the skills they needed, he said.
“We want to ensure that our workforce looks like California, but we were seeing challenges in who was pursuing STEM-related fields in college,” McNeely said.
That led it to team up with the United Farm Workers of America, online-education company Udacity and nonprofit leadership trainer Coro to create the AdelanTech program, which launched this summer. The name springs from adelante, Spanish for “forward.”
Throughout the year, the 12 inaugural participants will study programming and Web development through Udacity’s self-paced online courses. One Saturday a month, they will convene in a community college classroom in Salinas with a Coro instructor to learn leadership skills, check in with one another and Skype with their Udacity instructors.