TWC Presents Grant Check to AFN

by Leslie W. Hay

Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar presented a check for more than $370,000 in Self-Sufficiency Grant funds to Juanita Budd, Executive Director of Austin Free-Net, on October 24, 2017.  The funds are being used to provide the ACCELERATE IT Certification Program to adults in the Austin community. The program is a STEM workforce development initiative for those seeking training for entry-level network and computer system administrative positions. (Photo(l-r) Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Kevin Enders, Juanita Budd, Elizabeth Quintanilla, Debra Dibble-Boone, Chairman Alcantar, and Belinda Matingou.)

Chairman Alcantar shared remarks about the economic importance of AFN’s ACCELERATE program before an enthusiastic crowd of program students, AFN Board and staff members, community leaders and supporters. “Many of these people going through this training partnership will leave with skills that are going to allow them to go out there and launch their career in a very powerful effective way.  They will have the foundation to acquire other skills and migrate and adapt to the changes that are occurring relative to technology.  We know that the occupations in our economy are shifting, we know that they’re driven by investment, that is largely being driven by technology,” said Alcantar.

He also applauded Austin Free-Net for not only demonstrating a commitment to help grow the region’s economy, but at the same time helping individuals with different challenges, from different backgrounds and different stages in their career move towards a more prosperous future.

After the presentation, the group enjoyed a reception and tour of AFN’s DeWitty Center computer training lab. A few of the students spoke about how the ACCELERATE program is helping prepare them to compete in today’s technology driven workforce.  Jacob Kruse shared with the audience his experience working for a TV weather station years ago.  When the television industry historically changed from analog to digital format, he realized that he needed to keep up with the latest technology.  Twelve years later, Jacob no longer works in the television industry, but he is committed to keeping his skills up to date. “In today’s workforce, it is still important to know IT fundamentals. This is the link to learning new technology,” remarked Jacob.  (Photo:  Hanna Foster and Jacob Kruse)

Juanita Budd thanked TWC and the corporate sponsors Google Fiber, the City of Austin and Texas Workforce Solutions and students for helping make the program possible. “I am so proud of this first cohort of ACCELERATE students for their commitment to the program and following through on their career goals. I am excited about the future possibilities for them,” said Budd.  

If you would like to register for the next ACCELERATE Class or know a potential student, visit our information page. ( Free-Net will provide training for 180 participants meeting qualifications for a one-time nominal $30 registration fee.  Working with placement officers, Austin Free-Net will engage ACCELERATE students obtaining one or more certifications with local and national-level employers for employment. Start your success story today with the ACCELERATE IT Certification program.