Solution Overview

What is the name of your organization?

Women in Technology

What is the name of your solution?

Cyber Security Educational Program

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Providing disadvantaged single mothers ages 23-43, interested in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) workforce, a pathway to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of their children.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

The cyber security field is a growing sector and that offers career opportunities. WIT’s focus on educating single mothers on cyber security as an alternative pathway to combat poverty stems from the surplus of cyber job openings in the United States. The opportunity is massive. As of September 2022, Cyber Seek, a tech job-tracking database from the U.S. Commerce Department, reports that there are over 579,736 open jobs in cyber security and information security nationwide with entry-level position salaries starting at approximately $57,000 per year to $133,500 per year. 

The future appears very bright for careers in cyber security, but there are still stumbling blocks many women must overcome when entering into STEAM-related fields.

Although women have made many strides in working in STEAM-related careers, there still is a glass ceiling that prevents them from reaching their full potential. The percentage of women in the United States labor force has gradually climbed to 47 percent over the past decades. However, it remains significantly lower in the tech sector. According to CompTIA, an American non-profit association for information technology, the tech sector workforce consisted of 5.1 million men and 2.5 million women, translating to 67% and 33%, respectively. 

What is your solution?

Our most important goal is to break generational poverty. Our Cyber Security Educational Program for Single Mothers’ top priority is making sure that our participants receive jobs after successfully completing our program. In addition, the Participant with the highest score is recognized and honored at our prestigious WIT Women of the Year Awards Event as one of the “WIT Woman of the Year” and receives a scholarship that a WIT sponsor will award. Our WIT’s Women of the Year Awards Event brings together executives and professionals in STEAM from across Georgia to celebrate and highlight women who actively engage in Georgia’s STEAM community. 

The Cyber Security Educational Program for Single Mothers’ overall goal is to support disadvantaged single mothers who desire to obtain a career in technology. Our program enrolls 20 single mothers each semester (Spring and Fall) in a 12-week certification course where they receive hands-on technical training in the field of Cyber Security and Information Security offered by Emory University, which is a WIT partner. In addition, participants benefit from the full support of the WIT community by receiving the following services that are all offered free of charge to each participant:

·         Childcare

·         Meals for the child and mother on program days

·         Transportation

·         Laptops and peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse)

·         Mentorship during and after the program from women that are in STEAM leadership roles

·         Online coaching focuses on finding your purpose, goal setting, and personal branding

·         Resume writing

·         Interview skills with two sessions focused on mock interview exercises

·         Financial Literacy

·         Nutritional training

·         Microsoft Office Product Training (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, TEAMS)

·         Time management training

·         Corporate etiquette training

·         Graduates of the program are placed in jobs with a salary that puts them above the poverty rate.

WIT furthers our relationship with the participants by offering each graduate admission to monthly WIT Forum Events (educational and networking breakfast meetings) for two years—free of charge. This benefit will continue their mentoring and educational opportunities based on their individual goals, fulfilling our mission of empowering girls and women from the classroom to the boardroom.

WIT partners with organizations such as Uber and Sheltering Arms to assist the participants with free transportation and childcare services. WIT also provides each participant with a $180 visa gift card for lunch during their classes. In addition, WIT partners with Inspiredu, an organization that believes in changing lives through technology and education. Inspiredu provides laptops to our single mothers in our Single Mother’s Program. WIT works to ensure that all the participants have all they need to thrive and succeed in our single mother’s program and in career in cyber security. 

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Often times, the disadvantaged or homeless population is overlooked and ignored. Our target population that we serve are disadvantaged single mothers between the ages of 21-43. These mothers are residents of the metro-Atlanta area. We anticipate serving 40 women in one year (i.e., Spring and Fall semesters) and would like to help more if we can raise enough money. All of the women we serve live below the poverty level, are unemployed, or possibly homeless. 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

WIT has a team of people who contribute to the success of our Cyber Security Educational Program for Single Mothers. Emily Louthen manages the WIT Cyber Security Educational Program for Single Mothers. Emily is the Manager, Community Impact Programs- WIT Careers ConneXions and the Single Mother Program. It is not an easy task to maintain a program so instrumental in changing the lives of women. She is responsible for meeting the strategic goals of our program and making sure we exceed our overall goals. Mrs. Louthen keeps track of the success of the participants.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

  • Other

In what city and state is your solution team headquartered?

Atlanta, GA, USA

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

WIT's solution currently serves 40 single mothers. 20 single mothers in the fall semester and 20 single mothers in the spring semester. By 2024, we intend on growing our program to include 80 women per year (i.e., 40 single mothers per semester). 

Why are you applying to the Challenge?

WIT's main reason for applying to the challenge is to provide a pathway underserved women, who are mothers, to improve the quality of their lives and the lives. WIT would like to break generational poverty and continue to break the glass ceiling in STEM related professions. In addition, WIT would like to contribute to creating a more inclusion STEM workplace. By providing women from underserved backgrounds an opportunity to bring their talents to the table. 

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Penny Collins, President and CEO

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

Penny Collins was a single mother once and wanted to get into a STEM related career, but didn't know how. Through her passion for STEM, hardwork and sheer determination, she was able to finally step into a role with a technological company despite the odds that were stacked aganist her. As the president and CEO of WIT, she never forgot about the obstacles that she had to overcome as a single mother, hence the reason why she started the Cyber Security Educational Program for Single Mothers.  

Penny’s leadership style is one that creates an empowered, highly engaged workforce with the skills needed to succeed in this era of exponential technologies. At her core, she is a servant of our community and an advocate for women in leadership because it makes sense. 

Prior to joining WIT, Penny was the Chief Technology Control Officer for First Data Corporation, Global Lead for Disaster Recovery and Head of Global Cyber Security and Controls PMO for the CEO. In addition to all these roles, she served as the global leader for First Data’s Women’s Leadership Council and a solid champion for the organization’s diversity and inclusion programs.
More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

WIT's solution approaches the probelm in an innovative manner, by finding the most talented within communities that are overlooked. WIT provides the opportunity for the participants to receive an education, thus creating an alternative pathway for them to succeed. This also provides an avenue for hiring candidates from diverse backgrounds and allows for a more inclusive STEM work enivronment. 

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

WIT's goal for the next year is to be able to provide opportunities to 40 participants per semester (80 participants within a year). 

WIT's goal for the next five years, is to be able to reach participants in rural areas in Georgia and provide them with access to a pathway to break generational poverty. 

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

The major indicators that WIT uses to measure our progress are listed as follows: 

  • Graduation rate of participants. 
  • Job placement of participants. 
  • Job maintaince of participants (are the participants staying in their jobs or/and are they receiving appropriate raises/promotions) 

Describe in simple terms how and why you expect your solution to have an impact on the problem.

WIT's Cyber Security Educational Program for Single Mothers will impact mothers from underserved backgrounds. However, on a larger scale our program will have an impact on the single mother's families and on the STEM community- by providing various technology companies with qualifed and talented employees.

If your solution is tech-based, describe the core technology that powers your solution.


Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which US states does your solution currently operate?


In which US states will your solution be operating within the next year?


Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


How many people work on your solution team?

WIT has 12 fulltime employees and one part time employee. 

How long have you been working on your solution?

WIT's Cyber Security Educational Program for Single Mothers was created in 2019. So, WIT has been working on our solution for five years. 

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

WIT prides themsleves on creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. WIT works hard to push for the same within the STEM related field. 

Solution Team

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