The US Department of Education has awarded a $2.4 million grant to the Purple Maiʻa Foundation, a non-profit technology education organization, to support a new workforce development initiative.

The Hiapo Tech Workforce Development Program aims to upskill, train, and credentialize Native Hawaiians and other under-represented groups in the tech industry with in-demand Salesforce Administrator training to become employable, culturally and community grounded knowledge workers.

The inaugural cohort, named Papa ʻAʻaliʻi to emphasize resilience to challenges, began its 14-week journey last week. The group will learn the basics of the cloud-based Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) platform and aim to achieve their Salesforce Administrator certifications by the end of the training.

“We have a vision of Native Hawaiian excellence in contemporary digital technologies,” said Kelsey Amos, Purple Maiʻa Foundation co-founder. “Skills like Salesforce are in high demand. Training and certification can translate into a career that supports a family, regardless of a person’s educational background or experience.”

The Hiapo Program’s Salesforce Administrator training, as well as training and work-based learning in other in-demand technology and IT skills, traces its roots back to the support of Nakupuna Foundation for planning and early piloting in 2019 and 2020. The new program will run from fall 2020 to fall 2021 with the support of a grant of $829,807 from the Native Hawaiian Education program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Grant funds cover 100 percent of the program in year one, with similar funding amounts likely to be awarded for years two and three if program outcomes are good.

According to a white paper by IDC, from 2019 to 2024, worldwide spending on public cloud computing will grow 19 percent a year and during this six-year period, Salesforce and its ecosystem are expected to create 4.2 million jobs worldwide.

Salesforce can be applied to automate and personalize customer service and marketing and has powerful support for analytics and application development.

The Purple Maiʻa Foundation’s other programs focus on teaching coding and computer science to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander youth across the state of Hawaiʻi. But Purple Maiʻa has experience with adult programming with the Purple Prize, a technology innovation competition and social impact incubator. The foundation is ready to apply its experience to the up-skilling adult workforce demographic that the Hiapo Program serves.

About Purple Maiʻa Foundation

Purple Maiʻa Foundation is a technology education nonprofit whose mission is to educate and inspire the next generation of culturally grounded, community serving technology makers and problem solvers. We support Indigenous values in contemporary tech culture. By teaching students to innovate as Indigenous technologists, we can be part of a global shift toward growing more sustainable societies.

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