According to the DC Department of Employment Services, in certain parts of the city there are more jobs available than qualified applicants resulting in high unemployment rates. For example, in Ward 8 the unemployment rate is 14.2% versus 4.4% in Ward 3. When Roxanne Williams founded Urban Ed in 2000, her mission was to help youth in Wards 7 and 8 achieve steady employment by equipping them with training, resources, and experiences necessary for high-demand technology careers. However, when Urban Ed applied for a Fair Chance partnership, the organization, like many others in the nonprofit sector, was experiencing challenges during the recession.
Fair Chance worked with Urban Ed to rebuild their board, find additional funding, and launch new programs such as a technology camp for elementary students and a revived technology-training program for truant teens. Nearly a decade after their Fair Chance partnership, Urban Ed is thriving as a hub of opportunity for youth interested in STEM and IT, serving more than twice the number of students. In 2016, Urban Ed became a licensed state educational institution under the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and youth in their programs have an 88% IT certification pass rate and 90% job placement rate. Through IT education, Urban Ed puts youth on a pathway to stable careers and futures.
As a Fair Chance alum, Urban Ed applied for and received a Boston Consulting Group Fellowship providing further capacity building and organizational management expertise.