Lever Fund Investment in Per Scholas

Organization: Per Scholas
Program: IT Support Training
Proposed Investment: $20,000
Benefit-cost ratio: 23:1

Evaluation prepared by: Mark Swartz

Approved July 9, 2018

Per Scholas fits squarely into the Lever Fund’s Jobs of Tomorrow parameters. The organization provides employment training, placement and job retention services in six U.S. cities. The D.C. office opened in Silver Spring MD in 2014. The Lever Fund’s support will pay for instruction tailored to a wide range of tech occupations that pay $30,000-$50,000 annually at the entry level. Per Scholas’s approach works particularly well for young adults with a high school diploma or equivalent. The program gets them on career tracks offering significant chance for promotions and raises.

Per Scholas’s IT Support program covers the subject from operating systems and mobile devices to firewalls and the cloud. It prepares students for CompTIA A+ certification and entry into the field as a support technician. Training also covers topics like interviewing skills and customer service.

We believe it’s a sound philanthropic investment based on:

  • Robin Hood’s lead. Per Scholas in the Bronx is a long-term grantee of the Robin Hood Foundation, whose metrics and focus inspired the Lever Fund.
  • National leadership and local talent. This 20+-year-old organization has been led by Plinio Ayala since 2003. In addition to Robin Hood, Per Scholas enjoys the support of Bloomberg, AT&T, Google, and CITI. Locally, they are led by Melissa Stallings, formerly Manager of Workforce Development at Goodwill of Greater Washington, and supported by the Meyer and Capital One Foundations, among others.
  • Data. Per Scholas’s culture is rooted in data. They rigorously track enrollments, graduation/completion rate, certification, placement, and average hourly initial placement wage.


A $20,000 Lever Fund investment will pay for a 15-week IT Support course that yields two credentials, A+ and Network+. Although Per Scholas’s data show a placement rate of 77-99 percent, in order to be on the safe side, we are projecting that 50 percent (two individuals) will be placed and stay employed for at least one year.

  • Individuals served: 4
  • Wage boost: $460,000—($23,000 extra per year for 10 years for the 50% placed in better jobs than they would have secured otherwise)
  • Benefit-cost ratio: (projected) 23:1