Our mission is to help low-income adults acquire the technological and life skills they need to pursue their career aspirations.
Photos by Pablo Cocito
Most jobs today require computer proficiency, but if you don’t grow up with your hands on a keyboard, how are you supposed to learn?
At Computer CORE, low-income adults in Northern Virginia get the technical skills they didn’t learn as kids. Some are unemployed; most hold one or more low-wage jobs, typically without benefits or opportunities for advancement. Two-thirds are women. Many are first-generation immigrants.
A six-month computer training course helps students conquer fears and learn computer basics: keyboarding; working with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; using email and the Internet. After two months, they receive a free computer to hone their skills at home and share them with family members.
Instructors advise and mentor students, identifying existing skills, nurturing interests and working on resumes, cover letters, and job search strategies. By the end of the course, students have the skills and tools to achieve career success and lifelong self-sufficiency. 93% of CORE students graduate and start new careers, receive promotions and go on to advanced education programs.
Our vision is a world where all people have the skills and confidence to pursue their dreams, reach their full potential and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
CORE was founded in 1999 by Deb Roepke. In 2000, we partnered with the Fairlington Presbyterian Church in Alexandria to open our first office, a computer classroom and a refurbishment lab.
In 2008, we partnered with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia to offer a pilot class at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, which is now a permanent class site.
In January 2010, CORE began offering classes at a third site, the Providence Presbyterian Church in Fairfax County. A year later, we expanded further west to our newest site, the Herndon United Methodist Church. We now serve 192 students each year.
Our program includes five key components:
- 114 hours of training in Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and email
- Training in keyboarding, so that students meet the standards for administrative positions
- A home computer, so that students and their families may continue to improve their skills and access job opportunities
- Job-readiness training and job-placement assistance
- The opportunity to enroll at Northern Virginia Community College, apply for financial aid and receive seven college credits for coursework at CORE
CORE is funded in part by the City of Alexandria Fund for Human Services Community Partnership Fund and the Fairfax County Consolidated Community Funding Pool.