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Cognizant Foundation Awards $6.3 Million to 13 Organizations and Institutions in Communities Across the U.S.



Today the Cognizant Foundation announced $6.3 million in grants to 13 organizations and institutions to support the advancement of underserved and underrepresented groups in fields such as technology and equip learners with the tools they need to pursue and secure fulfilling careers.

“Through these investments, we are committed to ensuring historically excluded populations thrive in an ever-changing workforce where technology skills are paramount,” said Kristen Titus, executive director of the Cognizant Foundation. “We must continue to act with vigilance and urgency in our work to bring forth equitable access to industry-aligned education and career pathways—and look forward to advancing economic mobility in communities across the U.S.”

The 13 organizations receiving grants are:

Increasing Equitable Access to Education

With only 20% of high school graduates reporting that they feel prepared for college-level STEM courses, there is a pressing need to bridge this gap, especially for underrepresented and underserved students. Organizations such as ColorStack, Northeastern University’s Center for Inclusive Computing and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) are working tirelessly to level the playing field for underrepresented students and support learners as they move through the completion-to-workforce pipeline. 

Additionally, organizations like the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships and Center for the Future of Arizona ensure that students from all backgrounds receive the support and resources they need to thrive prior to pursuing postsecondary education.

Supporting Inclusive Pathways to Economic Mobility

With millions of workers reentering the workforce in the wake of the pandemic, we are still seeing an unequal recovery—while the unemployment rate fell to 3.2% for white workers in December 2021, it was 4.9% for Latino or Hispanic workers and increased to 7.1% for Black workers. Due to longstanding and systemic barriers, data shows that Black Americans and workers without college degrees have largely been left behind from the economic recovery. 

Leading organizations and institutions such as JFF, Christensen Institute, CUNY and Opportunity@Work are consistently working towards new, innovative ways to foster a more equitable workforce recovery for communities of color as well as workers who are skilled through alternative routes (STARs). Through clear opportunities for career development—and the tools and guidance individuals need to succeed—these groups are increasing opportunities for economic mobility.

What’s more, organizations like Blind Institute of Technology, Code Platoon and Resilient Coders allow aspiring and existing professionals alike to recognize their full potential, paving the way for fulfilling careers. And Workforce Matters works to support innovative strategies that center workers and learners of color in the design and implementation of workforce policies and programs.

Below are quotes from each organization:

Blind Institute of Technology—Mike Hess, founder and executive director: Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) is thrilled to be partnering with the Cognizant Foundation. BIT is a leader with workforce development initiatives for professionals with disabilities, and with the Cognizant Foundation supporting our efforts we will truly be able to significantly impact more lives.”

Center for Inclusive Computing, Northeastern University—Carla E. Brodley, dean of inclusive computing and executive director: “At the Center for Inclusive Computing, we work with a network of more than 60 schools across the country to increase the representation of women of all races and ethnicities who earn computing degrees. Community college students are a significant source of untapped computing talent in the U.S., and our partnership with the Cognizant Foundation allows us to expand our reach to engage with community colleges and four-year institutions to invest in and improve transfer pathways that lead to bachelor’s degrees in computing.”

Center for the Future of Arizona—Dr. Sybil Francis, president and CEO: “We are grateful to the Cognizant Foundation and their generous support that enables us to continue our work with our partners to reimagine how Arizona education and workforce development systems meet state and regional talent needs and prepare young people for STEM careers. To ensure that Arizona has a prosperous economy, every employer needs a talent pipeline of skilled, young and diverse professionals, and every young person must have postsecondary and career goals and the support to achieve them—these are the needs our Arizona Pathways to Prosperity initiative addresses.”

Christensen Institute—Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education: “A thriving career is not just about honing skills, it's also about nurturing networks. We all need people to turn to, people to expand our horizons, people willing to take a bet on us. Yet all too often, access to these powerful connections is left to chance and unequally distributed through inherited networks. Our partnership with the Cognizant Foundation will help the Christensen Institute to expand our research into innovative approaches to tackling the social side of opportunity gaps, helping all learners and workers accrue social capital alongside skills.”

The City University of New York—Lauren Andersen, university dean, industry & talent partnerships: “The missions of The City University of New York and the Cognizant Foundation align perfectly when it comes to ensuring that students from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds will have the tools they need for the in-demand jobs they want after graduation. We thank the Cognizant Foundation for partnering with CUNY to raise our campus industry engagement capacity to the next level and build the talent pipelines that will help graduates and businesses thrive. We look forward to the work ahead.”

Code Platoon—Alicia Boddy, chief operations and development officer: “Code Platoon is honored to partner with the Cognizant Foundation. Funding from the Cognizant Foundation is incredibly important to Code Platoon as we enter our sixth year of service to veterans and military spouses. The foundation's investment is a direct signal to the strength of our curriculum, the dedication of our team and the future success of our graduates.”

ColorStack—Jehron Petty, founder and CEO: “ColorStack is excited to break ground on a partnership with the Cognizant Foundation. It's an honor to be recognized among other leading organizations in our space, and I'm looking forward to working with their team for years to come. Their support will enable us to help more Black and Latinx computer science students complete their degrees and launch technical careers upon graduation.”

JFF—Kristina Francis, executive director, JFFLabs: “To build pathways to opportunity for all, learners and workers need career navigation solutions that support advancement, not just access. For the first time, new opportunities and advances in technology have the potential to offer meaningful, robust and personalized help—and with Cognizant Foundation we’re supporting the innovators that are leading the way. JFFLabs’ career navigation cohort is accelerating promising entrepreneurs that are poised to generate significant social impact and are aligned to market trends.”

National Council for Community and Education Partnerships—Alex Chough, president: “Building pathways to STEM careers for our most underserved students requires that we expose them to inspired teaching early and often. With the Cognizant Foundation’s support, we are thrilled to be working with education leaders across the country to build an actionable toolkit to help educators implement hands-on, project-based STEM activities in and outside of the classroom. Through a highly collaborative process, our partnership with the Cognizant Foundation and GEAR UP programs nationwide will help provide under-resourced schools with strategies, lesson plans and activities that help make STEM education more accessible and impactful.”

Opportunity@Work—Shad Ahmed, chief operating officer: “As we see strides in the movement to build a more equitable labor market for the 70+ million workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs), rather than through a bachelor’s degree, we are thankful for the generous contribution from the Cognizant Foundation. Our work with STARs reminds us every day of the challenges they face navigating today’s broken labor market. With this continued support, we can expand our data-driven solutions to build a stronger, more inclusive labor market alongside STARs, employers and their communities.”

Resilient Coders—David Delmar Sentíes, executive director: “We're proud of the Cognizant Foundation's investment in the work that we do and in the team that does it. Resilient Coders represents an alternative model of access to high-growth careers in tech; one that is more equitable and worker-centric. Everything we do we do in coalition. To have the foundation assume this sort of role in our coalition is not only exciting for us but impactful as well. Onward.”

Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) —Dr. Harry L. Williams, president and CEO: “Supporting students to achieve a higher education not only helps them succeed but also has a positive impact on their family and community. This investment from the Cognizant Foundation will help students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) gain the education and experiences that can unlock opportunities and put them in position to inspire and build better lives and communities.”

Workforce Matters—Loh-Sze Leung, co-director: “Workforce Matters is excited to be launching the Fund for Workforce Equity, our first collaborative funding effort. The Cognizant Foundation's leadership support for this fund sends a powerful message that centering workers and learners of color in workforce policy and program design and implementation is critical if we want to move toward equitable outcomes.”

About the Cognizant Foundation

The Cognizant Foundation works to inspire, educate and prepare people of all ages to succeed in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Since its founding in 2018, the foundation has awarded approximately $60 million to more than 70 organizations working to deliver industry-relevant education, technical skills training programs and critical research needed to modernize the ways we educate and employ our workforce. Learn more at

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