Training the Workforce: Accessible Education Keeps Dallas on the Cutting Edge of Innovation

To overcome tech's employment gap, a number of organizations in Dallas are providing free or affordable career training to children, women, and minorities.

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The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is home to more than 230,000 high-tech workers. Moreover, the region is home to the the majority of the state’s high-tech jobs, amassing 32 percent of its tech workforce.

Houston, meanwhile, is home to 27 percent of the state’s tech workforce, and Austin is home to 13 percent, according to the Dallas Regional Chamber.

But while tech innovation is booming in the area, underprivileged communities are still struggling to overcome the high entry barrier into the market. To remedy the problem, a number of organizations in Dallas are providing free or affordable training to children, women, and minorities.

Per Scholas

Per Scholas opened its Dallas training facility in 2015. The organization’s mission is to “open doors to transformative technology careers for individuals from often overlooked communities.”

The organization curates job-specific courses based on employers’ needs, trains overlooked talent pools in industry-standard IT practices, matches trainees with employers and provides career support, and identifies students of color, women, and disconnected young adults for its program.

Bold Idea

Bold Idea is a Dallas-based non-profit organization that aims to teach students critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills with a focus in coding concepts and computational thinking.

Bold idea teaches diverse student bodies in team-based environments in Dallas and Collin Counties. Its students range from grades 3 to 12 and each meet weekly with mentors to focus on hands-on projects and coding skills.

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DevelopHer is a career development platform geared toward women working in tech. It was founded in Dallas by Lauren Hasson, a technology professional-turned-entrepreneur. Hasson’s platform teaches women to negotiate their salary and earn their worth, helps women build confidence, and teaches women to become valuable assets at work.

Marcus Graham Project

The Marcus Graham Project is a national non-profit network that trains diverse professionals in advertising, media, and marketing. It identifies, mentors, and trains diverse professionals in media career skills; teaches long-term strategies in leadership and job skills; and offers technological, financial, and human resources to develop a talent pool


ICodeSchool gives students a variety of experiences and skills across the arts, sciences, and hands-on fields. It offers access to a proprietary curriculum that empowers students with knowledge, confidence, leadership, and project management skills and prepares students for the workforce. Seven locations cater to students in North Texas. 

Dallas ISD

Two specialty schools at Dallas ISD are working to bring students the best in immersive, S.T.E.A.M education. The Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) and Solar Preparatory School for Girls at James B. Bonham offer personalized learning with a college-readiness approach.

Solar Academy offers four areas of study:

  • Science + Engineering
  • Music + Theater
  • Tech + Coding
  • Makerspace + Art


IDEA Academy focuses on:

  • One-to-one student mentoring
  • Internships
  • Personalized instruction
  • Technological instruction
  • Goal Setting

AT&T Aspire Accelerator 

The Aspire Accelerator works with technology-focused organizations that help students, schools, and communities succeed. The intent is to prepare “today’s learners for the jobs of tomorrow,” and show how technology is fundamentally changing the way things are done.

The accelerator is a four-to-six month customized program that offers access to AT&T and external mentors, flexible location options, and opportunities to participate in various conferences and services.

AT&T in January promised a total of $1 million to Skills Building Challenge participants in 2019. Since 2008, the corporation has made a financial commitment of $450 million to supporting startups and decreasing the skills gap.

A version of this story was first published in Dallas Innovates 2019—The Magazine.

The second annual print publication explores the region as a rising tech superpower and a global hub of innovation.

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