Cognizant Launches Foundation to Empower Digital Education and Skills Training Initiatives Across the U.S. (MESA)

Cognizant today launched Cognizant U.S. Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and other technical education programs. The Foundation’s inaugural grant was presented by Cognizant executives to Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont at an event in Charlotte attended by local, state and federal officials.

Cognizant announced in February its intent to form Cognizant U.S. Foundation with an initial $100 million in funding. Organized as a non-profit organization, the Foundation’s mission is to support education and skills programs, public-private partnerships, and other initiatives designed for reskilling those in the workforce looking to obtain specialized technical skills for digital technology jobs.

The $1.5 million grant to Goodwill University, the education and training division of the regional non-profit, will be used to expand its digital literacy training, establish a digital lab at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus and fund advanced IT courses that result in industry-recognized credentials. More than 4,000 Charlotte-area residents are expected to benefit by 2021 from resources made possible by the grant.

Featured speakers at the Charlotte launch event included Cognizant Chief Executive Officer Francisco D’Souza, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, and Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont President and CEO Christopher Jackson.

“As one of the largest U.S. technology companies, Cognizant is acutely aware of the growing shortage of qualified workers with the skills needed to help businesses succeed in the digital economy,” said Cognizant CEO Francisco D’Souza. “Cognizant U.S. Foundation enables initiatives that will open new opportunities for those already in the workforce, and introduce students to careers in technology. By helping to close the technology skills gap, we hope to reinvigorate and expand job opportunities for Americans, and ultimately strengthen American businesses. The grant to Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont is a first step in our broader mission of enabling skilling and retraining efforts across the country. The organization’s technology curriculum is making a difference in Charlotte and the surrounding communities, and we’re pleased to be a part of it.”

D’Souza added that a recent Cognizant Center for the Future of Work report on the 21 Jobs of the Future highlights the way work is changing due to automation and artificial intelligence, but not going away. Jobs using the “new” tools of the trade – including AI, virtual reality, big data and others – will help solve old problems and explore new opportunities. D’Souza noted Cognizant U.S. Foundation’s goal is to help enable the new skills needed for future work and provide opportunities for workers in roles being disrupted by technology.

“We are thrilled to receive the support of Cognizant as we continue to develop innovative programs that help people find and secure family-sustaining employment,” said Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont President and CEO Christopher Jackson. “We are grateful for deeply-rooted relationships with Charlotte-area business leaders who help us identify emerging talent needs and potential career paths for the people we serve to ensure we are offering trainings for in-demand skills that coincide with promising careers in our region. This dialogue is fueling the development of the advanced digital curriculum and expanded resources we are making available as a result of today’s generous $1.5 million grant from Cognizant U.S. Foundation.”

“I want to thank Cognizant U.S. Foundation for choosing Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont for their inaugural grant to support education and skills programs for thousands of students and workers in North Carolina,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “The creation of the Cognizant U.S. Foundation is a testament to what companies can do for their communities with expanded capital, and the Charlotte area will benefit from the investment being made in our workforce. These funds will allow our students to explore a career in the technology field and our workers to expand their technological skills, resulting in more job opportunities and stronger businesses.”

In addition to creating Cognizant U.S. Foundation, Cognizant has sponsored recruiting, training, and reskilling initiatives in several states, including New York, Iowa, and Florida, with additional programs scheduled later this year in Arizona and Texas.