In an effort to combat the racial wealth gap in America, two UNH alumni, Geno Miller and Rayvoughn Millings, have come together in support of people of color (POC) in the workplace.
While in Durham, NH, Miller (’18) and Millings (’18) cofounded Shtudy, an online employment company that partners trained Black, Latinx and Native American technology industry hopefuls with various tech companies across America.
Now with their own office located in Manchester, NH, Miller and Millings are aiming to make their presence felt in the New England area, with goals of branching out in the future.
“The whole point is to bridge the racial wealth gap in America,” Miller said. “We want to bring wealth and keep wealth in marginalized communities in New Hampshire and outside of it as well.”
The median net worth of black households is currently at $17,150, which is 8.7 percent of the median net worth in a non-Hispanic white household according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. This is the racial wealth gap that Miller is referring to, and he feels as though tech jobs are the most effective way to diminish the issue.
“Tech is the place to be and it’s the way to bridge the racial wealth gap,” Miller said. “The average income for skilled tech workers is about $135,000 and that’s about twice the amount of a Black and Latinx family combined.”
Miller added that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recent racial inequality issues in America have allowed Shtudy to further their mission of getting POC in high ranking tech positions.
“With the current climate right now, it’s the right time,” Miller said. “A lot of people need jobs and a lot of companies are looking for people, especially engineers who can work on security, and implementing remote technical solutions that are essential to staying functional as a business right now.”
So far, Shtudy has averaged 100 sign-ups per week. Along with being Black, Latinx or Native American, to qualify for the program a candidate has to preferably have prior experience in the tech industry, five or less years of work experience, be in college or a recent graduate and/or have taken coding bootcamps in the past.
Once in the Shtudy program, these job seekers are encouraged to select a career path, then complete and pass a technical screening quiz within that path. Miller explained that these quizzes are much like the ones used at high profile companies like Google, Amazon and Netflix, among others. If the quiz is passed, then he or she is directed to the “training library” which instructs them on communicative skills and technological holes in their repertoire. Concluding the program is a one-on-one mock interview with a recruiter that will eventually deem him or her job ready and ready for real job openings.
“This process has taken about three to four weeks for each candidate so far from (Shtudy) just hustling and grinding, but with the platform evolution we hope for it to take about one to two weeks,” Miller said.
Shtudy is paid per placement from businesses that they partner with, and the price varies when companies want to interview potential candidates in bulk. Miller also mentioned that if a company wanted to inquire about a yearly subscription to Shtudy then the price would be negotiable.
What led Miller to Shtudy was his upbringing in Maryland. He used football and his entrepreneurial skills to keep himself occupied and on the right track, but some of his peers didn’t have similar outcomes.
“I’m fortunate to be where I am, but I know a lot of people that look like me that haven’t been as fortunate…It’s just because they didn’t know where to get it from,” Miller said. “The skillsets needed to stay focused and overcome those challenges”
Currently, POC workers occupy nine percent of all tech jobs in America. One reason for this is the lack of Black and Latinx tech graduates.
According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, 3.86 percent of all engineering bachelor’s degrees were earned by African American students in as recent as 2016. Latinx students hold 10.4 percent of those degrees as well.
Another is because the qualified POC don’t have the ability to get their foot in the door at established companies, and that is what Shtudy is trying to help with.
To grow and promote their brand, Shtudy has searched for more funding and ways to connect themselves with an increasing amount of tech companies across the country.
“We’ve raised about 150,000 in funding to date and we got a research grant to go down to Silicon Valley,” Miller said. “We talked to hundreds of companies like Airbnb, Tesla and Google…our main goal was to get educated on the issue of the racial wealth gap and also how we can solve it. Even though there aren’t a lot of people of color at these companies, it was surprising to see how many actually cared about the issue.”
Shtudy has also partnered with charitable foundations like “Flowers of the Future” which is the foundation of Detroit Lions linebacker Trey Flowers. They have collaborated on hosting coding bootcamps in Detroit, M.I. and they plan to keep working together in the future.