SMU Partners with 2U and Over 30 Universities to Launch $3M Scholarship Fund

The fund was created to expand access for people from historically underrepresented communities to attend tech training boot camps.

Over a third of Americans think they’ll need more education if they lose their job as a result of the ongoing pandemic, with Black Americans and Latinos more likely than white Americans to have been laid off, according to research conducted by Strada Education Network.

But, a new $3 million scholarship fund may be able to help facilitate the educational needs of these communities.

2U, Inc. has partnered with more than 30 universities including Southern Methodist University to expand access for people from historically underrepresented communities to attend tech training boot camps through this fund, according to a statement.

$2,500 scholarships will be available to Black, Latino, and Indigenous learners, as well as women, who demonstrate both need and merit and are going through job loss or financial hardship.

SMU’s scholarships are designed specifically for people of color and women in the Dallas area who are disproportionately feeling the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic, according to a spokesperson.

“SMU GO is grateful to 2U, and its subsidiary Trilogy Education Services, for providing scholarships to our virtual boot camps in data science, coding, and financial technology. Our boot camp graduates have found that their training has led to new professional opportunities as well as growth in their current jobs,” Michael J. Robertson, Ph.D., SMU Associate Provost for Continuing Education, ad interim, told Dallas Innovates via email.

SMU Global and Online (SMU GO) offers professional development and technical skills enhancement and is “the go-to source for students with the objective of lifelong learning,” according to its website. SMU Professional and Online (SMU PRO) is a part of SMU GO, which offers a range of degrees, certificates, and short courses for people looking to advance in their careers or transition to different ones, and is also participating in the fund.

The scholarships offered through this new fund can be used toward more than 100 online tech boot camps in fields including coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, fintech, and digital marketing.

“Increasing access to higher education for people of all backgrounds across their lives and careers is critical to meeting society’s greatest needs. Through these boot camp programs, universities across the country have expanded educational opportunities for over 25,000 learners in their cities, giving a diversity of working adults the skills to become a meaningful part of their local tech economies, including hundreds of people here in Dallas thanks to SMU,” Jennifer Henry, SVP of Career Services at 2U, told Dallas Innovates.

When the pandemic began to affect educational institutions, 2U helped its partners’ boot camps go virtual and trained the instructors in the best practices for online teaching, according to a statement.

2U acquired Trilogy Education, a leader in boot camps and workforce accelerator, in 2019. More than 25,000 people have graduated from Trilogy-powered boot camps with thousands of organizations employing the graduates. 2U has also recently launched a 24-month, no-interest payment plan option for students enrolling in boot camps across its university partner network, according to a statement.

Toward the end of 2019, SMU announced it would host the ‘first fintech boot camp in Dallas’ through SMU PRO. That boot camp is part of a series of tech boot camps SMU is holding in partnership with Trilogy Education. SMU’s involvement with this fund furthers its mission of educating people for the workforce.

“With this Scholarship Fund, SMU is partnering with over 30 other universities across the country, alongside 2U, to ensure more underrepresented candidates in tech—including Black, Latino, and Indigenous learners, as well as women—have the opportunity to build market-relevant skills to weather the post-pandemic economy,” Henry says.

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