A fast-growing IT solution provider is investing in the future of young women looking to enter the IT world with a scholarship it hopes will also provide a payback for its own business.
vCore Technology Partners has set up a vCore Women in Technology scholarship it hopes to invest in the education of young women looking at IT as a career, said Steve Leavitt, founder and CEO of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based solution provider.
The scholarship is expected to invest about $1 million over the next 10 years helping 100 women with scholarships to study IT, Leavitt told CRN.
The first scholarship awardee is Ashley Bruner, one of a set of triplets who will enter college this year. Bruner plans to major in computer systems engineering at ASU, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, starting this fall. She will receive a scholarship of $2,500 per year for four years.
The main goal of the scholarship is to encourage more women to enter the technology business in order to increase the gender diversion of the industry, he said.
"It's really, really difficult to find enough women in tech to be a diversified company," he said. "So we end up looking like everybody else. But diversity is important. If the industry is not attractive to half the population, that's not good."
Leavitt admitted that his small company with its scholarship cannot by itself make a big impact on gender diversity in the tech industry. "But you do what you can," he said. "That impact over time will grow."
He also admitted there is a practical element to the scholarship program. "This gives us a pipeline of potential hires," he said. "We will want to bring in as many of these students as intern as we can, and hope to hire many of them."
vCore is initially working with Arizona State University to set up the first scholarships, Leavitt said. The solution provider has offices in Irvine, Calif. and in Denver, and is talking with universities in those areas about the scholarship. Other discussions are planned for locations throughout the western U.S., he said.
"We want to get to 10 to 12 cities, with 10 to 12 scholarships per year," he said.
Each university has its own ways of handling scholarships, and so the program will vary from school to school, Leavitt said. At ASU, the school helped design the funding and identified six top candidates from those who applied. A team from vCore interviewed the top six candidates, looking for who might be able to have the best impact on the industry.
"I was looking for people who really want to change the world," he said. "I want people to want the same thing I want, to have an impact. I was also looking for good communications skills and a curious mind, and looked heavily at activities outside schools."
Leavitt hopes the vCore Women in Technology scholarship will grow in size over time.
"We're in conversations with our tech partners to either help us or invest in such scholarships on their own," he said. "We expect the funding to be more than we originally set up. We want people to put money into making this an attractive business."