Next Generation Digerati are no strangers to ‘Hidden Figure$​’​

Annual IT Summit in D.C. Broadens Tech-Inclusion and Community Outreach

WASHINGTON — Helping Other People Excel.

Now in its tenth year, H.O.P.E. Project DMV (HOPE) has successfully developed a proven approach to broaden community engagements within the tech industry and the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). HOPE’s program sources untapped talent from traditionally underserved communities for classified and unclassified entry level technology roles. Starting salaries for GED credentialed candidates, high school graduates, and returning citizens with newly minted tech industry certifications approach $35,000 for tens of thousands of unfilled entry level and junior level technology positions. Several alumni already have reached HOPE’s “six-figure” club — some with Top Secret security clearances; A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications.

H.O.P.E. Project IT Summit 2019Opening these exciting new career pathways to a better way of life for families not only provides peace of mind, but significantly impacts economic growth for communities in the National Capital Region. Moreover, according to Defense One, technology is drastically altering what makes our nation strong, prosperous, and secure. The DIB is not only becoming a strategic innovation base, but a military artificial intelligence (AI) complex.

Founded by Raymond Bell, Jr., HOPE knows this all too well and has always recognized an urgent need to upskill local communities since inception. Over 25 cohorts later and owning unique relationships with industry trade associations such as CompTIA, HDI, and BDPA, HOPE continues to prepare HOPE alumni for advanced pursuits, and certifies cybersecurity professionals for trans-generational sustainment. Moreover, HOPE alumni are industry’s new project managers and hiring managers.

hopeIT19j.jpgSean G. Conner (left) of 22nd Century Technologies, Inc. was this year’s keynote presenter and one of HOPE’s panelists from industry. He listed career opportunities in Defense and Health IT. His firm has successfully captured new defense contracts in the Pentagon, in Maryland, and in Florida.

This year’s panel featured Richard Honesty from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bea Braxton, CEO of BeaKen Systems & Technology Solutions Inc., and Perry Carter, President of National BDPA’s Greater Washington D.C. Chapter. Panelists stated today’s leading digital companies have disrupted every industry they have touched, from publishing to automotive. Digital transformations determine how industry identifies and sources raw talent from every community. Yet far too often, future workforces are left out of groundbreaking innovations and economic development opportunities, especially those 18 to 24 years of age.

H.O.P.E. Project IT Summit 2019Sergeant First Class Warren Martinez (above) highlights current training opportunities in cyber, telecommunications, and information technology with the United States Army. For those entering technical fields or seeking security clearances with additional income as a reservist, access to the Army’s specialized training, high-tech equipment, and cyber operations are unavailable in most civilian jobs and becomes extremely invaluable on technical resumes when presented across growth industries.

New technologies notwithstanding, emerging success stories with industry and the DIB from suppliers and local communities hardly ever are deemed newsworthy. HOPE has changed this narrative. This year’s I.T. Summit was an annual value-packed information technology conference with Industry offered at no cost to District Residents, HOPE students and alumni, BDPA Members, and the public. Participants were able to discover new concepts while discussing industry’s requirements with HOPE alumni and Industry panelists. Government contracting with related start-up opportunities, acquiring security and facilities clearances, and pursuing degrees while entering technology fields were H.O.P.E. Project IT Summit 2019discussed.

The following workshops were offered this year:

  • Interviewing for I.T. Jobs, Building I.T. Resumes, Working with Recruiters and Job Boards
  • HOT Technical Certifications and Cybersecurity Tools
  • “Must-Have” Technical Skills for Entry and Mid-level I.T. Jobs
  • A Day in the Life” of a HOPE Project’s World Class IT Help Desk Professional

Rocking her new ‘HOPE Hoodie’, Ms. Alaisha Etheredge (inset photo), shares dashboard and analytical reporting requirements during her session. Attendees discussed using the latest security information and event management (SIEM) tools such as Splunk and related certification tracks from novice to expert.

Conference and tech summit attendees met with IT professionals, small business executives, and workshop presenters, some of whom “walked in the same shoes” and recently launched their careers with HOPE.

H.O.P.E. Project IT Summit 2019During this year’s sessions, participants discovered how to prepare for an IT career within any vertical industry segment such as defense, healthcare, or transportation while acquiring practice skills that helps one succeed with certification testing toward any assignment.

For additional information, visit HOPE’s landing page at HOPE is real.

Photo credits: H.O.P.E. Project DMV (top) and BDPA-DC . Raymond Bell, Jr. and Theresa Caldwell contributed to this article for bdpatoday.



Discover new cybersecurity and technical civilian careers with the Department of the United States Air Force.

H.O.P.E. DMV Alumnae Receive 2015’s President’s Awards

hope-37bMERCEDES SNYDER | President’s Award

Here is Mercedes’ Story

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well and walked through the doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it behind you. You reach back and you give folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

— Michelle Obama

Mercedes Snyder is a Help Desk Manager and has only been in the IT field since October of 2013. Mercedes was born in Washington, D.C. and had lived in DC majority of her life. At the age of 16 she moved to Texas with her mother. When Mercedes turned 20 she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy Jayden. Mercedes had worked for Walmart from 2007 to 2010. During this time, Mercedes was dealing with domestic violence at home and was constantly told she will never accomplish anything.

She decided to move back to Washington, D.C. to get out of that situation. Unfortunately, she had to leave her child in Texas because she could not afford to take care of him. As soon as Mercedes returned to the District, she took the first job she could get her hands on,” McDonalds”.

Working at McDonald’s she only made $7.80 per hour. With a promotion to a production manager she finally made $8.00 per hour.  At $8.00 per hour, Mercedes feared she may never be able to get her son back.

One day, Mercedes’ cousin Alyssia Suarez informed her of a program called the H.O.P.E. Project. She stated that the program helped her to make $45 K without a college degree and it was within the DMV area. Excited about this information, Mercedes attended the very next available H.O.P.E. Info-Session for this program.

After going through various stages of consideration such as a telephone interview, an essay, a face-to-face interview, and a test on a white page, Mercedes was finally selected for this opportunity, but initially was denied.

Not willing to give up, six months later Mercedes tried again when H.O.P.E. Project announced another class was about to begin. She was accepted into the program this time around! Within her first week she received a job working for HP, a BDPA Platinum Sponsor, supporting  Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) with a public trust Clearance.

Excited about this opportunity and how quickly things were changing, Mercedes knew that this way to get her son back and out of poverty. Being in the HOPE project took a lot of work having to study and research on a completely new field other than retail. The day before graduation she received an offer letter to work for Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).  Soon, Mercedes was able to get her son back soon after that.

While being in the IT field, Mercedes knew that she had to keep pushing because that was not enough money to get a place on her own. Six months later she received a new opportunity to support Defense Health Agency (DHA)  and within eight months of being at the help desk level she was promoted to Help Desk Shift Manager.

The HOPE project has taught Mercedes how to take control of her life as well as to give back to her community. Mercedes is active mentor for new H.O.P.E. Project students.  Mercedes is now able to provide for her son and so much more.  She doesn’t just have job, she has a career!

“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people live.” 

— Michelle Obama



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