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Executive Summary

Through the CoLAB, the Greater Washington Partnership has launched programs designed to expand the pipeline for digital tech talent and more effectively prepare learners for entry level jobs in the Capital Region. Our programs meet learners where they are—starting in high school, moving through postsecondary education, and into the workforce.

If you had told me a year ago that we would spend the year building the region’s diverse digital tech workforce while parked in various corners of our homes dodging pets, kids, and partners, I would not have believed you. Despite being faced with the unprecedented pressures of a global pandemic, our employer and educator partners mobilized to drive the CoLAB’s work of engaging over 45,000 students and adult leaders in digital tech pathways by 2025, at least half of whom are from underrepresented backgrounds.

When we began 2020, we took as a given that the Capital Region’s economic success will be determined, in large part, by our ability to achieve inclusive growth that meets the demand for tech talent. The pandemic has underscored this urgency, as women and minorities are especially vulnerable in this economic downturn.

Our year’s work was rooted in three goals: Deliver on the promises we made, chart a bold vision for the future, and develop the infrastructure to grow a scaled and sustainable program.

As you will see in this impact report, our programmatic efforts across these goals have been robust and partner-driven. I am especially proud of our willingness to grapple with the thorny—and systemic—problems that have hampered prior efforts like ours. Our partners and the CoLAB team inspire me every day, with an insistence on equity, collaboration, innovation, and scale.

In less than a year, we have engaged over 800 students in the Digital Tech Credential. Students will begin flowing through our K-12 pathways pipelines in 2021 and we continue to add new employer and educator partners to our collaboration. The CoLAB staff has doubled in size and our partner universities have awarded their first digital tech credential badges.

I often say that if this work were easy, we would have done it already. Creating change requires thinking differently about seemingly intractable problems and striving for inclusive outcomes.

Our partners’ willingness to engage in this unchartered territory inspires me daily. The work of building new structures and relationships can be inherently risky and challenging but especially in 2020, the potential rewards have never felt more meaningful.

With gratitude,

Dr. Jeanne Contardo
Vice President and Managing Director, Capital CoLAB