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August 17, 2020 |
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GGU Partners With Genesys Works to Support Underserved Students

This summer, GGU collaborated with nonprofit Genesys Works and Salesforce to teach low-income high school students introduction to business and data analytics online.

By Jenny McKeel
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Aaliyah Sibanda, a rising senior at Skyline High School in Oakland, loves using her people-skills. This summer, she developed new capabilities in an online course on business and data analytics at Golden Gate University.

The Bay Area program of Genesys Works, a national nonprofit that provides pathways to college and career success for underserved students, teamed up with Salesforce and Golden Gate University to offer a unique training program. GGU provided students with training in business and data analytics, while Genesys Works provided training in soft skills needed to navigate a corporate office environment—all offered online and a large portion sponsored by Salesforce. Students who successfully complete the GGU course gain college credits and a certificate that they can embed in their LinkedIn profiles.

“It’s really cool to see how you can use data analytics and Excel everywhere,” said Aaliyah. “For my final project, I’m researching scarcity marketing. I think the pandemic has provided examples of scarcity marketing with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. It’s interesting how data analytics comes into that.”

Business and Data Analytics at GGU

The summer course, Introduction to Business and Data Analytics, was taught to high school students participating in a program offered by Genesys Works that empowers high school seniors through classroom training and a year-long paid internship.

Genesys Works Bay Area (GWBA) Executive Director Sahaar Rezaie said the program’s mission is to lay the groundwork for students in underserved communities to be successful after high school. During the two-month training, Genesys Works gives students meaningful work experiences, training in hard and soft skills, and access to impactful relationships.

“That’s followed by a year-long paid internship with companies like Salesforce and Kaiser,’’ Rezaie said. “The internship is supplemented by ongoing support and resources that Genesys Works provides. Students then use their program experience as a springboard for college and career success.”

It’s a model that’s producing results. 96 percent of the students who complete the Genesys Works program go to college, 40 percent pursue degrees in STEM, and they graduate at a rate that’s 3.5 times higher than what you see in this demographic of students, the majority of whom are first-generation college goers.

Supporting Underserved Communities

“It’s a great opportunity to give underserved high school students basic skills they can use right away,” said Marc Singer, dean of Undergraduate Studies at GGU. “Understanding data analytics is essential to working in any field. While many Bay Area professionals earn high incomes, other folks are falling behind. We need to insert ourselves into the ecosystem of organizations addressing these challenges in our community.”

What’s different about the Genesys Works training offered this summer is that it’s all virtual, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic heavily impacts the communities Genesys Works serves as well as its partners. In a survey of the demographic Genesys Works serves, 55 percent of those who responded said that at least one adult in their household had been laid off. More than 40 percent live in a household where they are the only member earning a steady paycheck, and 29 percent feared losing their housing.

Online Learning

For Aaliyah, the challenge of learning data analytics remotely was one of motivation.

“The virtual environment did make learning challenging. But since data analytics would be on the computer anyway, it wasn’t so much of a change,” said Aaliyah. “The hardest part is finding motivation at home. Trying to stay focused has been difficult, but I’m learning and getting better.”

Darien Sngoeun, another student in the GGU course, agreed that learning data analytics remotely was challenging but he’s developed valuable skills.

“I came into the class with no prior knowledge of anything,” said Darien. “Now I know the basics of data manipulation, exploratory data, what charts to visualize the data, and questions that should be asked to analyze the chart. By taking this class I’ve gained an interest in computer science and business.”

Innovative Partnership

The partnership with GGU, Genesys Works, and Salesforce is an example of a training opportunity that can be successfully offered online.

“As a Golden Gate University alumna, I’m personally very excited about this partnership with Genesys Works,” said GGU alumna Ebony Beckwith, EVP and Chief Philanthropy Officer at Salesforce. “Investing in our next generation and ensuring they have the skills needed to thrive in this technology-driven job market is crucial to building an inclusive post-COVID economy.”

In addition to providing virtual summer training, Genesys Works is working with businesses to offer students virtual internships that develop versatile skills that can be used in the future no matter where students are located. That way, students attending college in the Bay Area would be qualified to work remotely for a company based in another state.

“Thanks to the partnership with GGU, students that complete summer training have multiple options and pathways to success available,” Sahaar summarized. “Students walk away with three college credits and a micro-certification in data analytics from GGU. Students can then add their credits and certificate to their transcripts prior to applying to colleges. And we are hearing buzz from other cities about doing something similar. We feel this is a partnership that will enhance our program and benefit our students.”

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