Building Inclusive Economic Mobility Through Trauma Informed Care

“If it wasn’t for NPower, I wouldn’t know what type of help I needed or what that help entailed. It’s very challenging for us veterans to admit to ourselves and others that we need help, but it’s the first step to begin healing, so that we can then conquer our personal and professional goals.

Without NPower’s support, I wouldn’t be here today, and I mean this in a literal sense.

At what I considered to be one of the lowest points in my life, NPower offered me a pathway for a career opportunity in cyber security, but I also received much needed social support and professional development to regain my confidence. With my experience and training, I am now an Information Security Engineer, but more importantly, I am now in charge of my own story.”

Sara D – NPower Graduate

Building Inclusive Economic Mobility Through Trauma Informed Care

NPower received a generous grant from MetLife Foundation to support the integration of Trauma-Informed/Responsive Care in our Tech Fundamentals program. 

This support is an investment in multi-generational success for individuals and communities.

Impact Today - Trauma-Informed Program Delivery

NPower’s mission is to equip and empower young adults from underrepresented communities, military-connected individuals, and women of color with access and opportunity to free tech training, industry-recognized tech certifications, and wrap around support including professional development and mentorship, and full-time job placement.

NPower provides a pipeline of dynamic and innovative talent for the nation’s leading employers, creating a more diverse workforce. This helps to close the talent gap within the tech industry while building economic mobility for students so they can achieve multi-generational wealth. Often barriers – systemic, structural, external, and internal – stand in the way between NPower students and high-demand, high-growth careers in technology. Our student-centric approach acknowledges and addresses these barriers with Social Support Managers connecting students to a full-range of services including social service agencies to support their social and emotional well-being and help reduce barriers.

According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, 70% of adults in the U.S. (223.4 million people) experience some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. At NPower, implementing a strong framework around trauma-informed support was a priority to ensure the success of our students. In March 2020,  NPower’s National Instructor’s Institute integrated a trauma-informed approach to technical instruction, including trauma-sensitive techniques for classroom engagement. This approach recognizes that interpersonal and systemic traumatic experiences may have an impact on academic, professional, personal, and social-emotional well-being. An intentional and focused effort positioned NPower to create an environment that fosters resiliency through healing and post-traumatic growth. Leaning into the key principles of trauma-informed care: physical/emotional safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration (cultural competency & humility), and empowerment promote a sense of safety and security for individuals who have experienced trauma.

With each individual having a unique set of lived experiences, we prioritize students as being experts of their own experiences and remain supportive of the whole individual by meeting them where they are at.

Examples of the changes since NPower implemented this framework:

  • Organization-wide and department-specific trainings
  • Comprehensive review of program policies, standards & procedures, and best practices for trauma-informed alignment
  • Post-program surveys with graduates to assess trauma-informed delivery (e.g., I feel empowered to achieve success and am confident to take the next steps in my career. (Empowerment))

Future Success – A Trauma-Responsive Approach

The evolution of the trauma-informed approach happens when the focus moves away from awareness of the impacts of trauma to providing support for students who have experienced trauma. When this happens, all aspects of an organization’s programming, environment, language, and values, and staff are aligned to better serve students.

While we have begun this transition to a trauma-responsive program delivery, we will continue to deepen and sustain our implementation.

Elements that will be implemented to build capacity to enhance the program delivery approach include:

  • In-depth trainings of trauma-responsive delivery
  • Standardization of Social Support Managers’ toolkits with resources and specialized trauma, grief, and resilience trainings
  • Consultancy to better understand the impact of the student experience
  • Equipping volunteers to use trauma-informed principles during volunteer engagements

Our graduates are resilient. We see this epitomized through their grit, perseverance, emotional awareness, determination, confidence, problem-solving, and resourcefulness.

Our graduates have overcome traumatic experiences related to homelessness, domestic violence, negative college experiences, and military combat that are now thriving in high-quality tech careers. The intentional shift to trauma-informed care and a trauma-responsive program delivery has been a critical component in ensuring students from historically underrepresented and underresourced communities have access to supports that help them thrive in instructional environments and foster high classroom engagement.

With a supportive network, the trauma they experienced fuels post traumatic growth, hunger, and determination to create change in their own lives and their communities.

Scalable Solution, Intentional Impact

Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge Partnership

NPower’s impact will now extend to serve our active-duty military as they prepare for civilian transition through our newest partnership program, SkillBridge. This Department of Defense program allows for active duty service members to participate in training and education programs or apprenticeships during their last 180 days of active duty service.  NPower is one of very few 501(c)3 partnership organizations accredited by the Department of Defense for the SkillBridge program, allowing us to recruit active duty students on installations nationwide as well as those stationed abroad.  
SkillBridge is unique in that it looks to counter the problem of veteran unemployment or underemployment – before it becomes an issue, by training active duty while they are still receiving a paycheck, and before they transition, allowing for seamless integration back into civilian life.  Earlier this year NPower successfully launched our first cohort in cybersecurity at Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall, in Arlington, Virginia.
The 10-week virtual cohort in cybersecurity is a rigorous curriculum augmented with a specialized professional development to specifically assist with reintegration from military to civilian; while allowing the active duty service member the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials in CompTIA Security+ and Linux+ – all without incurring financial debt and saving their GI Bill for future use. This provides an open door to a new career in tech prior to separation from service, easing the transition into civilian tech careers.
NPower’s first cohort graduated 11 students in a ceremony on April 10 at the National Museum of the United States Army at Ft. Belvoir, VA, where NPower’s CEO Bertina Ceccarelli and Board Member RDML Dwight Shepard provided opening remarks.  These new cybersecurity professionals earned coveted apprenticeships with HPE, were hired as data analysts by companies such as Abicus, and Booz Allen Hamilton, with their newly acquired skill sets. Most military members hold security clearances, together with their new cyber credentials, make them powerful additions to the workforce where previously they would not have been considered.  Our second cohort is now underway with 26 students, with one student already hired into the Cyber Unit at Ft. Meade. 

Dango Kumwenda
U.S. Army Veteran 
Strategic Resourcing Consultant – Junior Cyber Engineer, World Wide Technology
NPower | SkillBridge Graduate 

“Going into the SkillBridge program I didn’t know what to expect or how challenging it was going to be, however, the instructors were amazing and made sure no one was left behind”

As we continue to develop partnerships with Base Commanders, Transition Officials, and Education Offices, NPower continues to attract qualified students who seek to transition to a career in cyber. With the expansion to Norfolk in August 2023 and looking towards our west coast stand-up in San Diego in 2024; SkillBridge has recruited nationwide and globally, close to 100 students throughout 2023 and well into 2024.  Future expansion is envisioned close to future military installations with a high volume transitioning personnel and adjacent to developing tech-hubs such as in Seattle, WA and Tampa, FL, with the goal of 12 SkillBridge sites nationwide serving 1,000 military personnel per year.

If you are interested in supporting the Department of Defense DoD SkillBridge Partnership with NPower as an employment partner, donor partner, or as volunteer please reach out to:

Dr. Wendy Lazarus
Regional Director for NPower | SkillBridge
[email protected]

AT&T Launches Community-Based Digital Navigators

NPower is excited to partner with AT&T to launch Community Helpdesks in St. Louis and Dallas this summer. We are committed to serving these communities to bridge the digital divide. This is so important to us as according to a 2020 survey conducted by Deutsche Bank, 76% of Black respondents and 62% of Hispanic respondents feel unprepared for jobs that require digital skills. This could stem from not having reliable access to the Internet, owning faulty tools or hardware, or not knowing enough to troubleshoot errors. The solution we’re providing is training a select group of our NPower students to become Digital Navigators and mobilizing them to serve their respective communities to get everyone connected!

Read more from AT&T here