New DC Innovation Opportunity Program launched

New pilot program for underserved student trainees from Wards 7 ad 8 to help prepare them for technology jobs in the new digital economy.

Innovation Opportunity program co-sponsors from 1776DC, MedStar, Capital One, General Assembly, the TDF Foundation, The ARC of DC, and DC government. (Photo credit: Malcolm Lewis Barnes)

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2015 – As part of the Bowser Administration’s month-long “innoMAYtion” initiative with technology training partner General Assembly (GA), the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and General Assembly have announced the launch of the city’s Innovation Opportunity Program. The goal of this pilot program is to train a cadre of ward 7 and 8 students for access to technology jobs in the new digital economy.

The event was kicked off by Evan Burfield of 1776 DC, the key technology partner that launched its unique, membership-based technology incubator in downtown DC with the support of DC government. The new technology incubator is located just across the street from the Washington Post building.

“Since we launched almost exactly 2 years ago with a vision to change DC, our community has truly flourished, with over 260 great start-ups members in our network,” said Burfield. “But we wanted to benefit the entire city with the kinds of jobs that define the 21st century – jobs in coding, user experience designer and product management.

“We are about making sure that everyone has access to great technology jobs,” he continued. “That is why we partnered with General Assembly to educate the type of people that the start-up innovation economy demands.”

The DC Innovation Opportunity Program is specifically designed to create an accelerated education program for high potential students in ward 7 and 8.

Through an application process that opens this week, the program will identify 35 high potential individuals who will be eligible to participate in a series of 3 workshops. From there they will get certificate of completion and get access to General Assembly’s digital curriculum online over a 12 month period. The program will also identify 5 students eligible to participate in a full immersion technology training program at General Assembly.

During the one year immersion experience the program will partner with Gear Up to work on soft skills, and each participant will be matched with mentors. This will be followed by six more months of paid apprenticeships will be available that include 6 months of training with Microsoft.

General Assembly’s core training partner, The Arc, will provide the space for the program, and the TDF Foundation is underwriting scholarships and with corporate partner support from Medstar, Capital One and Microsoft.

“This is really a natural extension of GA’s mission to expand access to tech, design and business skills and for our participants to pursue the jobs in technology that they love,” said Paul Gleger of General Assembly.

“We have helped over 1000 students get jobs through their Opportunity Fund,” he said, and “have also joined the Obama administration’s Tech Hire initiative to expand skills-based education.

Brian Kenner, the recently appointed Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, spoke on behalf of Mayor Bowser. “DC government was one of the early investors in 1776,” he said, “and we are pleased with their expansion and connection to the region.

It’s important that we reached these types of regional audiences,” he continued. “People want a piece of ‘the community’ that you are creating. And I want to have more people from underserved backgrounds to be invested and a part of this dynamic economy… The message for innovation is very is simple “DC Creates- DC Innovates!”

The announcement of the new innovation opportunity program is only one component of a month-long kick off of Small Business Week activities. Earlier, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the city’s uniquely branded innoMAYtion initiative, which is intended to showcase innovative programs that will create jobs, engage residents, and position the District as a hub of innovation. Highlighting public and private sector programs, innoMAYtion will concentrate on innovative ways the city can respond to meet the needs of District communities.

“Throughout the month of May, my Administration will showcase how District residents and businesses are creating economic opportunity for residents by taking innovative approaches to complex problems,” said the mayor. “In Washington, we are tackling challenges head on and creating good-paying jobs that create pathways to the middle class for District residents.”

Events throughout the month will focus on key priorities Bowser Administration priorities, including education, technology, small business, the creative economy, and good government.
Innovation Opportunity Program host 1776DC is currently sponsoring the current The Challenge Festival that began on May 8 and ends on May 16. The Festival is a week-long series of events hosting people with the best ideas for global impact in education, energy & sustainability, health, and transportation & cities. The Challenge Festival includes industry conferences, galas, and the culmination of the Challenge Cup where over 70 entrepreneurs from around the world will compete for $650,000 in prizes.

To access the online application for DC’s new program, visit –


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