Steve Cooper, CEO, NextUp Solutions

The Experiential Learning in Tech Employment (ELITE) Grant has launched as Virginia’s first ever work-based learning grant for mentored software developers. These two inaugural projects engage student engineers from Virginia Tech and Radford University to develop vital software for two local startups, KlariVis and ArchiveCore, through Exelaration, an award-winning software development center based in Blacksburg. The program provides full-time expert supervision in the form of Exelaration’s expert engineers acting as mentors to the junior developers.

The ELITE Grant features an innovative mechanism that matches funds for intern wages paid by tech employers with GO Virginia funds for intern oversight. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) oversees the ELITE grant, which has a target to connect 57 total mentored software developers with local employers over a two-year span.

As a Professional Internship Organization (PIO), Exelaration’s revolutionary business model has connected high-performing undergraduate students with experiential learning opportunities under the guidance of full-time expert technologists for more than a decade. The ELITE Grant gives Region 2 employers the opportunity to tap into Exelaration’s talent pipeline and software services to build and complete projects which are often delayed by the lack of a tech workforce.

An added benefit of the ELITE Grant is combatting the region’s ‘brain drain:’ the exodus of many engineers after graduation who seek employment outside the region, often with glamor companies such as Google or Facebook. As the tech talent gap continues to widen across the country, the ELITE Grant aims to connect junior developers with the region’s growing business opportunities, introducing prospective employees to their rich cultures and workforce earlier than ever. Additionally, the grant is a key tool in attracting even more high-tech employers to Region 2 as they seek out a renewable ecosystem of tech developers created through a healthy pipeline of local software engineers.

“We serve clients everywhere, but our favorite thing is when we connect our top Exelaration engineers to the dynamic tech companies right here in our area,” said Steve Cooper, Exelaration CEO. “Clients get their software built, while we build their future tech workforce.  And the student engineers gain valuable work-based learning. Seven is a great start, but ELITE has room for 50 more!”

But the results of the ELITE Grant aren’t all long-term gains; businesses are benefitting now. Lennox McNeary, founder and COO of ArchiveCore, a digital healthcare credentialing platform, notes that the ELITE Grant allowed her business to seek the expertise of a fractional CTO without the recruiting and budgetary challenges. “ArchiveCore needed a trusted technology partner to advise on tech direction across a wide variety of challenges, from security to feature prioritization to blockchain to design. Utilizing Exelaration and the ELITE Grant funding allowed us to take our business to the next level by accessing experts without paying the full-time equivalent cost,” she says.

All Region 2 companies are eligible to join the ranks of innovators like ArchiveCore and KlariVis by taking advantage of up to $5,000 in matched funds per professionally managed intern through the ELITE Grant. Ideal candidates include small, mid-sized, and startup companies currently stifled by a lack of resources to complete an understaffed or incomplete software project.

To learn more and see how the ELITE Grant can benefit your business, email johnphillips@rbtc.tech

 

 

 

 

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