New program tackling economic mobility presents first graduating class

New program tackling economic mobility presents first graduating class

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - 31 students recently graduated from the Carolina Fintech Hub program called WIN (Workforce Investment Network). They were the first graduating class. It is an intense six month program that teaches students how to code.

Students are paid about $35,000 to learn how to do it. After the program - they are guaranteed a job paying $55,000 a year with benefits. Most of the students lived in poverty and now with a job skill that’s in demand - they can earn a living wage.

“We know we’re impacting upward mobility,” Carolina Fintech Hub Executive Director Tariq Bokhari said. “Right now we know it - we see it in their eyes.”

Bokhari says the program is very competitive to get in. He says more than 1,000 people applied. More than 100 people were interviewed for the program and 31 people were accepted.

“They’ve learned to code,” Bokhari said. “They’ve learned Java. They’re a full stack developer at entry level and they have started their careers full-time this week.”

Several companies partnered with Carolina Fintech Hub to offer the graduates jobs. The program includes training and students working with their future employers a few days a week before graduating. Partners include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, BB&T, Ally and EY.

The Executive Director says he is looking for more companies who will help with economic mobility and offer jobs. This program is a direct result of a Harvard study several years ago that placed Charlotte 50 out of 50 last when it comes to economic mobility. Bokhari is grateful local companies are stepping up.

“Everyone of these companies who have given jobs and given careers to these folks,” Bokhari said. “We’ve designed it in a way where this is part of their strategic plan - this is in their interest to hire the new market of talent they need.”

WIN’s next coding class will take place in January. Bokhari hopes about 5,000 people will apply. He says the next class will consist of more than 31 students. He would not give a definite answer of how many but he says it will be more than 31.

“Let’s just say it is definitely a bigger stretch goal,” Bokhari said. “That we will continue to grow year over year with this program.”

Graduates say this has been a game changer for them. Michael Withers says he grew up in poverty and was in a dead end job that was not paying enough. He says getting into this program helped him. He has a wife and three children.

“It allows me to provide for my family,” WIN Graduate Michael Withers said. “It allows me to do more things I couldn’t do before - it means the world to me.”

WIN program provided students with assistance from taking care of their transportation to removing other barriers that would prevent them from focusing on the program.

“It was challenging enough to make you think,” Withers said. “But right before the breaking point - like you knew - are you going to stick it out or not.”

Withers said he is glad he stuck it out. He believes his life is about to get better.

“If feels really good able to pay the bills,” Withers said. “Don’t have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck, and then from that - it just goes up from here.”

If you are interested in this program just go to www.carolinafintechhub.org/win for more information.

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