Raimondo, Paiva Weed, Grebien Welcome LaunchCode to Help Rhode Islanders Build Skills and Compete for Open IT Positions


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Gina M. Raimondo welcomed LaunchCode, a tech talent placement nonprofit and Real Jobs RI job-training partner, to Rhode Island. She discussed how the state is helping employers meet their IT skills shortages and helping workers build the skills they need to compete for these open positions. If you missed the event, you can check out a link to the live feed on Facebook.

The Governor was joined by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien, Department of Labor and Training Director Scott R. Jensen, Dean Lori Ciccomascolo of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Continuing Education, officials from LaunchCode and TechHire Rhode Island – the state’s tech talent pipeline – and Kenzan, a cutting-edge software engineering and professional services firm in Pawtucket.

«Our economy is shifting rapidly and is increasingly driven by technology,» Raimondo said. «Our priority is helping Rhode Islanders build the skills they need to get good paying jobs. As part of this effort, we are participating in President Obama’s TechHire initiative and working with LaunchCode to prepare people to compete for open positions in the IT sector in our state.»

«LaunchCode’s launch in Rhode Island adds to the momentum that our economy is experiencing, in part because of the partnership between Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly on enacting policies and legislation that are focused on putting Rhode Islanders back to work,» Senate President Paiva Weed said. «The more we can do to build skills that are in demand by employers in sector after sector, the stronger our workforce, companies, economy and quality of life will become.»

LaunchCode will help Rhode Island build a tech talent pipeline and a 21st-century workforce that will connect nontraditional job-seekers to high-paying tech jobs. Raimondo awarded LaunchCode, a nonprofit organization that places qualified candidates into apprenticeships and jobs in tech, a $350,000 implementation grant through her Real Jobs RI job-training plan in November. Rhode Island is LaunchCode’s fourth national hiring hub.

During the event, the Governor, Senate President, and Mayor received a coding lesson from two apprentices at Kenzan.

«This is a prime example of how partnership and collaboration between the private sector, public sector and non-profit sector can benefit Rhode Island’s businesses and the economy,» Mayor Grebien said. «I want to commend LaunchCode for the invaluable work that they do preparing people for the evolving job market and would also like to congratulate Kenzan, a valued member of the Pawtucket business community, for seeking innovative ways to fill their tech talent needs.»

«People need pathways to good jobs and companies need talented employees,» LaunchCode Executive Director Brendan Lind said. «LaunchCode can address both of these problems while supporting Rhode Island businesses and strengthening the community. We’ve already seen tremendous interest from local companies that are looking to fill tech jobs. Rhode Island’s investment in building a tech ecosystem makes it a natural fit for LaunchCode.»

«TechHire Rhode Island is excited to have LaunchCode join our state’s tech talent pipeline,» said Damian Ewens, an executive of the national non-profit Opportunity@Work and Project Director for TechHire Rhode Island. «LaunchCode’s ability to quickly assess and place new tech talent will be a valuable asset for Rhode Island companies.»

«Kenzan has gained so much from the tech community in Rhode Island and we are looking to provide a space for the next generation of software developers to grow and to hone their craft,» Kenzan President Larry Samuels said. «We feel we can provide the foundation of technical expertise and mentorship that is so integral to the success of LaunchCode’s candidates.»

«URI’s College of Continuing Education is dedicated to delivering curricula and programs that create an intentional effort to help nontraditional learners who seek to initiate a career change or advancement, or to complete a degree to enter or re-enter the workforce,» Dean Ciccomascolo said. «We are pleased to partner with LaunchCode to build a bridge between student learning and more favorable employment outcomes.»

LaunchCode will be offering a free coding boot camp starting May 9 at URI’s Downtown Providence Campus.

«DLT’s mission is helping workers find good jobs and helping employers find good workers,» Jensen said. «Through our Real Jobs RI partner, LaunchCode, we will help equip Rhode Islanders with 21st century IT skills and better serve companies like Kenzan, whose clients include some of the best-known brands in the world.»


LaunchCode’s RI office is staffed by Company Relations Manager Lauren Tracey and Candidate Recruitment Manager Shandi Hanna. Employers and job-seekers interested in learning more should visit their website, which will serve as the first TechHire Rhode Island hiring portal for IT jobs. Employers looking to partner with LaunchCode to hire tech talent should email Lauren Tracey at lauren@launchcode.org.

TechHire Rhode Island is a new statewide initiative for delivering in-demand tech talent for Rhode Island companies in a manner that: (1) is employer driven, working with employers across the industry to build hiring solutions aligned to IT job and training needs; (2) unlocks new talent, expanding the local IT talent pool by hiring for mastery, not pedigree; (3) grows proven education and training solutions to include new higher education computer science (CS) minors/majors and best-in-class boot camps and hiring on-ramps; and (4) funds success, such as the Wavemaker Fellowship for repaying tech job candidate student loans, as well as Real Jobs RI industry partnerships and CS training offerings. In collaboration with Governor Raimondo, Rhode Island state agencies, local businesses, educational institutions and community-based organizations, TechHire Rhode Island was co-designed and developed by Opportunity@Work, a national nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., with a Providence-based team dedicated to the initiative’s successful implementation.

Kenzan is a software engineering and professional services company that has been helping its clients Make Next Possible™ for more than 10 years. Kenzan provides a broad suite of customized services including Platforms as a Service, Application Development, Cloud Virtualization and Consulting / Education. Kenzan’s primary clients include Fortune 500 companies, MVPDs, media and consumer electronics firms and advertisers. They develop utilizing a combination of traditional and agile methodologies, are team players, exceptionally detail-oriented, and love to be challenged.