Escaping Homelessness Through Tech – A Young Mother Creates a New Life for Herself and Her Son

Escaping Homelessness Through Tech – A Young Mother Creates a New Life for Herself and Her Son

Sep 20, 2021 Bertina Ceccarelli

“NPower saved my life in many ways. NPower not only allowed me to gain the technical skills necessary to enter and dive in the industry, but also helped me land an internship and build relationships that changed my life.” – Yahaira Moore

Navigating a citywide homeless system with a newborn son was not part of Yahaira’s life plans. But life came at her fast and furious as she attempted to pursue a college degree.  

Born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Yahaira along with her eight siblings grew up in what she describes as “very poor” living conditions. It wasn’t until she started college that she visualized how people could secure well-paying jobs and earn enough income to take care of themselves and their families. That is what she wanted for her future.

Life changed quickly for Yahaira in her junior year of college. She got married, became pregnant, and to escape escalating abuse and to ensure the safety of her infant son, had to flee to a domestic violence shelter days after giving birth. Her haven in the shelter was short-lived. Yahaira had 90 days before she would be on her own to navigate the city homeless system.

Survival mode kicked in. She spent the first 30 days mapping out a life to support herself and her month-old son. While she had always had an interest in technology, Yahaira was certain not completing her audio engineering degree would be a barrier to gaining employment in the tech industry. Her case manager at Safe Horizons, a community resource and shelter organization, knew about Yahaira’s career aspirations and encouraged her to apply to NPower’s free tech training program.

Still residing in the shelter and breastfeeding a newborn, Yahaira enrolled in the rigorous NPower program, determined to make this opportunity work. She excelled in the four-month technical and professional training and obtained an industry-recognized IT certification. Just as Yahaira was preparing for her seven-week paid internship offered through NPower, Hurricane Sandy hit, delaying an opportunity for valuable hands-on tech experience. 

Yahaira was chosen by her peers as the class speaker at the NPower graduation, where a partner at Deloitte offered her an internship on the spot. She thrived, sticking to her motto, “No one is gonna out-work me.” Her work ethic did not go unnoticed.

Yahaira presented her story at NPower’s annual fundraising gala event, where hundreds of Chief Information Officers and Chief Technology Officers were in attendance. After her speech, a manager from World Wide Technology (WWT) approached her and invited her to interview for a full-time position. She has been at WWT since 2014 and in January 2020 was promoted to associate managing consultant. Yahaira enrolled in NPower’s Advanced Training Cloud Computing evening program, where she earned her AWS Cloud Practitioner certification, further solidifying her skills and credentials.

Never forgetting the challenges of her own journey, Yahaira frequently gives back to her community through partnering with WWT to create more internship opportunities for NPower students, returning to Safe Horizons to share relatable advice with new shelter tenants, and continuing to provide hope for other young women facing unexpected life situations.

High-quality careers with upward mobility are more than just jobs. For Yahaira it was an escape from a cycle of poverty, abuse, and financial instability. We know Yahaira’s trajectory, but what about the other young women like her who may not have found a haven in an organization like Safe Horizons or discovered NPower? What are their stories?

A June 2021 report from Brookings Institute cites how targeted job training combined with support services is among the most viable pathway for workers who are unemployed or stuck. Those in low-mobility “sandpit” jobs benefit from this training to earn the highly-valued credentials necessary to transition into quality, career-growth employment. With low-wage workers disproportionately hurt by the impacts of COVID-19 and with projected displacement of lower-skilled jobs by automation, programs like NPower offer a scalable solution to economic security and a means to fill the nearly 1.4 million open tech jobs. 

NPower does not do its work alone. Corporate support comprises the majority of our sustainable funding and is a testament to the value of our diverse talent pipeline. The invaluable role that private philanthropy plays is supporting NPower’s scale and capacity and seeding program innovation so we can continually evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities.   

Yahaira could not imagine where she would be today when life looked bleak. But with a little help from NPower, and her own determination and resilience, she created the future she envisioned years earlier. And she has built a different future for her young son. There are so many more unfinished stories like Yahaira’s that fuel our collective drive at NPower to create more opportunities for economic advancement for young adults and veterans and especially women of color. 

Bertina Ceccarelli is the CEO of NPower, a national nonprofit on a mission to move people from poverty to the middle class by training youth from underserved communities and veterans in a range of tech skills and placing them in quality jobs. Eighty percent of NPower graduates get a full-time job or continue their education. For more info visit: npower.org