April 2023

Columbus hosts JPMorgan Chase’s first-ever diversity-focused tech skills program

By Amanda Tonoli
Columbus Business First

JPMorgan Chase chose Columbus to host its first event in the United States to hone female and nonbinary high school students’ technology skills.

The organization’s program, called GenerationTech, Tech for Social Good, paired volunteers with 50 Columbus high school students to design and build websites and mobile apps to address goals set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Group. Those include climate change, hunger and gender inequality.

The virtual program concluded with students presenting their designs to a Shark Tank-style panel this past Saturday at the tech center at Columbus’ JPMorgan Chase headquarters.

“We really are looking to inspire that next generation of talent,” said Julia Backon of JPMorgan Chase. “Sparking their interest in technology, computer science (and) technology careers early is really, really critical. … Whatever we can do to get more young women excited about tech as a real pathway for their future is fantastic.”

The idea is to build out technology skills among underrepresented populations.

Backon said JPMorgan Chase launched the international program in 2016. Columbus is one of 15 host cities for the program this year. The other U.S. locations include New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Tampa, Florida.

Volunteer Nalini Boda, a JPMorgan Chase vice president and senior technologist, said she loves solving business problems as well as building and delivering tech solutions.

“That is where we can make an impact and change young minds to consider GenTech and engineering as one of the options or career paths they can choose,” she said. “That is making an influence.”

Boda said as a parent, she knows the importance of exposure to future careers through nontraditional means.

“I have two children, so this is one of the things I take pride in sharing with them,” she said. “Children don’t listen to parents. So these are the best programs to bring them in, listen to their peers and other mentors and get that coaching to navigate the problem they’re solving. That’s really the best way to contribute.”

In February, JPMorgan Chase invested $3 million to help launch the Columbus Urban League’s Accelerate Her initiative, a program that aims to support women of color in the Central Ohio business community.

And in 2021, JPMorgan Chase, committed $7 million to Columbus – making it one of six recipients of a $75 million effort – to prepare young workers for unfilled jobs in underserved communities, according to the company’s website.

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