Upswing CEO Says Twitter’s Apprenticeship Program Underscores Demand for Diverse College Graduates

Industry: Higher Education

Growing Workforce with Next-gen Leaders from Non-traditional Students Ensures the U.S. Remains Competitive in the 21st-Century Economy

AUSTIN, Texas (PRUnderground) August 5th, 2019

EdTech startup, Upswing CEO Melvin Hines says Twitter took a significant step forward in underscoring the demand for non-traditional students by launching the Twitter Engineering Apprenticeship Program.

According to Twitter, “Through this program, we hope to grow our technical workforce of next-generation leaders from non-traditional backgrounds and those underrepresented in tech.”

Hines, the co-founder of Upswing, knows a lot about the hurdles of going to school as a non-traditional college student.

Growing up in southern Georgia, he watched his Mom go to college when he was in middle school, and the experience showed him the value and hurdles of being a non-traditional student.

Years later, Hines’ experience inspired him to create Upswing, and its innovative education software to provide students with an education support system and help them from dropping out of college while improving retention and graduation rates for colleges.

Hines says it’s crucial to help non-traditional students succeed and cross the finish line, but even more critical to help students of all backgrounds achieve success.

Twitter’s Inclusion and Diversity

He says the Twitter Engineering Apprenticeship Program and their focus on generating a stronger pipeline for diverse talent is an essential step toward creating next-gen leaders from non-traditional backgrounds currently underrepresented in technology.

Non-traditional backgrounds include self-taught coders, veterans, caregivers returning to the workforce, and the underrepresented include minorities such as women, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.

“It’s critical that non-traditional students succeed, and providing them with the educational support system they need, more students can cross the finish line and graduate,” says Hines.

However, he says it’s equally essential helping students from all backgrounds achieve the social mobility that comes with earning a college degree.

“Twitter’s Apprenticeship Program is a fine example of how we can grow our technology workforce with next-gen leaders from non-traditional students, ensuring the U.S. remains competitive in the 21st-century economy,” says Hines.

Upswing is doing their part targeting non-traditional students for academic success with their innovative education software that makes learning accessible, flexible, and tailored to the way students live and work.

They’re providing students with interactive chatbots, online student services and a virtual assistant named ANA for scheduling tutoring or advising sessions as needed.

Hines points out that Twitter and Upswing share the same vision.

Twitter’s Engineering Apprenticeship Program pairs applicants with dedicated coaches and mentors to set them up for a successful career in engineering, and Upswing pairs non-traditional students with tutors and advisors to help them succeed at earning their degree.

“It’s critical we tap the incredible abilities that exist among non-traditional students. Also, by doing so, we’re creating a vast pipeline of diverse talent in the workforce,” he adds.

Non-traditional Students, The New Norm

Nearly 75% of today’s students have at least one characteristic that qualifies them as “non-traditional.”

Non-traditional college students include online, first-year, and adult students, and according to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), each share these characteristics:

-Not immediately continuing education after graduating from high school

-Attending college only part-time

-Working full time (35 hours or more per week)

-Being financially independent

-Having children or dependents other than a spouse

-Being a single parent

-Having a GED, not a high school diploma0000

Surveys show that most college students have jobs, and 46% are the first generation in their family to go to college, 37% are age 25 or older, and 42% are people of color.

“Online and non-traditional students include someone who might be the first generation, who’s going to college after working for 10 or 15 years, taking care of a family, or working at the same time,” says Hines.

Upswing Helping Non-traditional and Diverse Populations

Upswing focuses on serving non-traditional and diverse populations, especially in rural communities, and works with more than 10% of the 107 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and 15 Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs).

“We think about what their educational experience is going to be like and focus on improving the circumstances of students facing obstacles in life,” Hines says.

Hines points out that a traditional student and a non-traditional student are getting the same degree, but non-traditional students must work harder because their life is pulling them in so many different directions and that requires an educational support system outside of the classroom.

Upswing’s education technology connects non-traditional college students with success so they can cross the finish line and earn their degree.

“Earning a college degree is difficult, and many non-traditional college students struggle, balancing family, and work responsibilities with academics. This makes their goals even more challenging because of the reality they are facing juggling classwork with the responsibilities of providing for their family,” adds Hines.

Graduating 50,000 Non-Traditional Students by 2020

Upswing is focused on attaining an ambitious goal of preventing 50,000 non-traditional college students from dropping out of college by the year 2020.

Thus far, Upswing has helped prevent more than 20,000 students from dropping out of college.

It’s called the ‘Upswing 2020 Vision, and its focus is reducing the equality gap among college students.

The goal is uplifting more students, preparing them for the workforce and helping the nation’s economy.

Upswing, much like Twitter’s Engineering Apprenticeship Program, is doing its part to reflect the diverse voices among students and growing the workforce of next-gen leaders from non-traditional students.

“Our workforce needs to reflect what’s going on in the world right now, and I’m proud that Upswing is doing its part to ensure that our workforce is more diverse and inclusive with people from all backgrounds,” adds Hines.

Learn more about at https://upswing.io/

About Upswing

Upswing is an Austin, Texas-based educational technology startup removing the barriers to degree equality. Learn more about Upswing at https://upswing.io/

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Renee Hewitt
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