Nearly a half-million dollars in federal funds are expected to help two local programs forge a new STEM-based job training initiative to help Kansas City-region job seekers find permanent high-wage careers in tech.
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, on Wednesday announced a $499,196 award from the U.S. Department of Commerce to Goodwill MoKan (Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas), in partnership with LaunchCode.
The goal: to start a Kansas City-based jobs program through which participants enter new tech careers and see an annual income increase of at least 200 percent.
“No matter where they live or their educational background, all Kansans deserve a good-paying job to support their families and contribute to our local economy,” said Davids. “This federal investment is a huge win for our region, where employers are eager to hire for technology jobs. It will provide both job seekers with the opportunity to learn technical skills, leading to higher-paying careers, and a positive return on investment for our community.”
The award specifically funds Goodwill’s new “Bridge to Technology and Careers in Greater Kansas City” program, which is intended to serve demographic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in technology, like women, BIPOC, low-income people, and people without four-year degrees. The effort also aims to increase access to training for high-wage technology careers; and ultimately diversify Kansas City area employers through the placement of apprentices and workers in their companies.
“This investment by the federal government will empower more people to overcome the digital divide, pursue in-demand credentials, and earn apprenticeships and employment in technology-based careers in the Kansas City metro,” said Mike Sinnett, president and CEO of Goodwill Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas, who applauded Davids’ efforts in Washington, D.C. to empower people through work.
Upon completion of Goodwill’s four-week program, job seekers can apply for a tech career program through LaunchCode, where they’ll earn no-cost technical training certificates, be placed in high-wage STEM-job opportunities and apprenticeships, and receive career preparation services, including resume review and mock interviews.
Program graduates are then expected to be introduced to well-paid tech opportunities through a free accelerator apprenticeship program. By October 2025, it’s expected the program will help at least 80 Kansas City-area residents start junior-level tech careers, 55 of which through these federally registered apprenticeships, Davids’ office said.
Individuals participating in the program will receive computer devices, internet services, transportation, clothing, child care, and more to assist in learning.
The 14 counties eligible for program participation include Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, and Wyandotte in Kansas, as well as Bates, Caldwell, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Jackson, Lafayette, Linn, Platte, and Ray in Missouri.
The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s STEM Talent Challenge, a national competition that supports programs to train science, technology, engineering, and math talent and fuel regional innovation economies across the nation.
The 11 awardees, selected from a pool of 90 applicants, are expected to increase America’s STEM-capable workforce in the emerging and transformative sectors such as aerospace, biomanufacturing, cybersecurity, data science, geospatial, artificial intelligence, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.
“The EDA’s investment in Kansas City is a huge win,” said Julian Nicks, CEO of LaunchCode. “It is a signal of a continued commitment to developing a high-quality, diverse tech-enabled workforce so current and future Kansas City companies can continue to thrive and grow. We are honored and proud to stand alongside Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas in this important work.”
“Our joint efforts will continue to invest in the untapped potential of local Kansas City residents by creating free, accessible education and pathways to high paying, in-demand careers in technology,” he continued.