BALTIMORE — On Saturday, June 22, 2013, 10 adults from underserved communities in East Baltimore graduated from a free program that will allow them to receive a certification to increase their earnings potential by tens of thousands of dollars. They will not be graduating from Baltimore’s most prestigious university.
Instead, they will be graduating from a high caliber Information Technology program that will expedite their careers in IT by providing them with opportunities in federal government. The no-cost Oliver Community Association IT program was created by the D.E.N.T. Group (Delivering Educational Needs Together) – named for East Baltimore Citizen and community advocate, Marques Dent.
The graduation was the culmination of 10 long weeks of instruction focused on intense hardware and software training, said Dent whose organization, the D.E.N.T. Group, is a coalition of business leaders committed to providing educational resources to the community. Each student will receive industry-level training using CompTia A+, and a Department of Defense (DoD) caliber curriculum that makes them DoD 8570 compliant. This level of free training is unique to small neighborhood centers like the Oliver Center.
“No one else is offering this caliber of program for free in Baltimore City,” he said. “We are teaching the skills that are mandated by the federal government, to provide residents from this community the highest paying IT jobs the government space has to offer.” Dent holds a masters degree in Information Technology Management from Webster University in St. Louis Missouri and currently works as a help desk supervisor at General Dynamics Information Technology, a Department of Defense post.
“After certification, our students from the Oliver Community right here in East Baltimore, have the ability work for any of the federal entities – FBI, CIA, DIA, anybody that’s DoD, including the Pentagon.”
Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes who represents the Oliver Community agrees that these kinds of programs serve as a great motivator in impoverished communities. “We have been working diligently to pre-qualify workers by offering them training and apprenticeship programs that offer economic opportunity as well as placement,” he said. “I am particularly concerned about the joblessness of African American men in my community. Having this IT program in Oliver will help prepare them for the 21st Century job market.”
Dent doesn’t find anything unusual about his involvement in this community. For him, it is a mandate. “I believe that everyone has a personal responsibility to give back in some way,” he says. “I live in this community and I know that there is a need for these kinds of jobs here. I have also worked in the DoD arena for the last 7 years.”
“These are the skills I have acquired,” he said, adding that he must pass it on. “If I was a brick layer or a painter, I would be doing the same thing.”