“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”
— Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa
According to a 2017 report from the Greater Washington Partnership, the Washington region has 35,000 vacant digital tech jobs. They project that this gap will only widen as the years and decades go on. At the same time, the region has almost half a million people living in poverty―including tens of thousands of children―and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. Poverty today is robbing us of the workers that we will depend on tomorrow. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
At Lever Fund, a data-driven and heart-led philanthropic endeavor, we are dedicated to ending poverty here in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. From the organizations that we have funded through our Jobs of Tomorrow campaign and the communities in which we work, we have learned two lessons about stopping poverty in its tracks:
- Invest in what works
- Support great leaders
Per Scholas-National Capital Region shows us why.
Per Scholas DC is the local chapter of a national nonprofit with a mission to open doors to transformative technology careers for individuals from often overlooked communities by providing employment training, placement, and job retention services. The average graduate of a 14-week program sees an increase in income from $9,000 to $36,000. More than 240 participants annually are put on a pathway to an even greater economic upside. Ninety percent of their students are people of color, a third are women, and a third had been disconnected young adults. Beyond the metrics, the voices of their students show the impact:
"A year ago from today I was sitting in class at Per Scholas, not knowing anything about tech. And now I am a contractor for United States Department of Agriculture.”
- Juan Pererya, Help Desk Analyst, Sotera Defense Solutions, Inc.
“My biggest accomplishment is getting into a great field while also taking care of my son.”
- Nsia Frenche, Per Scholar Graduate, University of Maryland University College (UMUC)
We invested in Per Scholas because of their amazing outcomes and also because of their tremendous leader, Joy King. Joy, a Chicago native, is a social entrepreneur, Japanese speaker and educator who had undertaken extensive work in the most underserved parts of DC before coming to Per Scholas. In her Lever Fund interview, she said, “Everything is exciting! I am most excited about the opportunity to get more people on the path to access their dream career, to make a living wage, to support their families, and to be a catalyst for change in their communities.”
She and her work excited us too. This energy, along with Per Scholas’ impacts, are what make us confident that they are part of the solution toward ending poverty in our region.
Imagine how much more Per Scholas could do with more resources, how many more students could they serve and lives could they change? How many more organizations in our region could do the same? This is a question that we can answer.
Lever Fund has invested nearly $200,000 in organizations breaking the poverty cycle for more than 1,000 people annually in our region. And with your help―we can do even more.
Poverty is robbing us today of the workers who will fill the jobs of tomorrow. When these jobs remain unfilled, we all become poorer. By investing in extraordinary leaders implementing interventions that work with dollars that matter, we can accelerate pathways to ending poverty in the National Capital Region.
We ask you to join us in this fight by donating $1,000, $500 or even $50 so that we can support more organizations like Per Scholas. With your help, we can make poverty not just a thing we fight but a fight that we win. Lever Fund's Board of Directors covers all operating costs, so 100% of your contribution is invested directly into selected nonprofits.
The Lever Fund exists not only to alleviate poverty in our own backyards but also to eliminate it in the entire D.C. region. We can only do it with your help.
With gratitude and best wishes for a joyful holiday season,
Vice Chair, The Lever Fund