Per Scholas: A Community of Talent Driven by Pro Bono

May 6, 2019 10:00 AM ET

Read the full blog on Taproot Foundation's website

The 2019 Global Pro Bono Summit, hosted by Taproot Foundation, will take place in New York City this May. Leading up to this gathering, Taproot will be releasing a series of profiles featuring movers and shakers of the pro bono movement, from companies with cutting-edge programs to individuals working towards a more engaged society to nonprofits tapping into pro bono service as a way to deepen their impact on the communities they serve.

A community of talent

Per Scholas was founded more than 20 years ago with a mission to open doors to transformative technology careers for individuals from often overlooked communities. Now, they operate out of eight cities nationwide and have helped more than 9,000 unemployed and underemployed individuals gain the skills and credentials to succeed. As Per Scholas continues to expand their reach and impact, their work with volunteers is growing too, including pro bono.

Making an impact together

In addition to the valuable work of their alumnae volunteers, Per Scholas has engaged in a variety of different pro bono engagements—from one-day events with Taproot, to multi-week projects with their long-standing corporate partners. Although they don’t have formal partnerships, they’ve been able to take advantage of pro bono programming regularly for the past several years, noting an increasing interest in pro bono from the corporations they partner with.

Sarah Conte Wessel, Senior Director of Employer Partnerships & Career Services at Per Scholas, summed up the power of pro bono to support their work: “My team would have never had the time, the capacity, or the bandwidth—and the fact that volunteers were doing that on top of their day job really was incredible.” Indeed, Wessel said, one of the greatest benefits of pro bono is the way volunteers can multiply organization capacity. “Having an army of individuals dedicate time to thinking through a complex challenge is not a luxury that nonprofits usually have.”

For Per Scholas employees, pro bono has offered additional benefits too, from leadership development opportunities to new perspectives. Wessel notes that “pro bono challenges offer a different way to develop leadership abilities,” citing the chance for employees to bring a big project to completion and interact with new stakeholders. And Claire Cuno, Director of Youth & Support Services, described a three-week pro bono engagement with corporate volunteers who flew in from around the world to work with Per Scholas as “an amazing, unique opportunity to learn from different people and different places.” For Per Scholas, pro bono is a piece of their larger commitment to developing diverse leaders among both their students and their staff.

See how Per Scholas is driving impact in their community by receiving pro bono support.