Techfrederick's Aspire Training Program Awarded Largest Grant Funding to Date by Maryland Department of Labor

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Public-Private Partnership in Tech Training Mitigates Economic Impacts of Pandemic

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Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson said “Labor is pleased to support the successful Aspire Training program led by techfrederick through the state’s nationally-recognized EARN program. This...funding ensures employers in the region have the highly-skilled and well-trained workforce necessary...”

techfrederick, a non-profit 501(c)(3) coalition of local high-tech companies, just received its 5th round of funding from the Department of Labor, garnering its largest amount of funding in a single grant to date, $355,446. Since its inception, techfrederick’s Aspire Training program has been awarded just over $1.1m in grant funds through this initiative to offer high caliber, high tech training to local tech professionals seeking to upgrade their occupational skills.

Despite the logistical challenges of 2020, the ASPIRE program adapted and overcame to deliver:

  • 18 training sessions to the local business community, covering topics ranging from cloud-based web service software to business strategy to project management and more
  • Participation of 240 individual employees to training classes that were identified as necessary to the business community through needs assessment surveying
  • Content which supported the attendees on pathways to various technical certifications and additional responsibilities in their roles
  • Increased retention for businesses by upskilling their staff

Both employers and their employees have found the subsidized training offerings to be impactful within their operations. Katie Barkdoll, Director of Budgeting and Purchasing with the City of Frederick, sought out techfrederick’s expertise when the City was transitioning to cloud-based Office 365. While not anticipating the pandemic ahead, this software proved invaluable to help keep the City’s operations continuous once staff was forced to telework. Techfrederick evaluated the City’s needs and provided the necessary training to 128 City employees. Ms. Barkdoll stated, “The training prepared the City to make a smooth transition to Office 365 without a disruption to services. The COVID-19 shutdown wasn't anticipated at the time, however as a result of the training, employees transitioned to telework seamlessly. The additional TEAMS training gave the City the ability to continue holding public meetings and move important legislation through the public process. Internally, the City used TEAMS for staff meetings and other project meetings to further essential work."

Beyond training for upskilling and ensuring business continuity, techfrederick continued to offer classes in the software sector that prepared attendees to achieve industry certifications. John Lockney, Cloud Security Architect with Fannie Mae, attended an advanced Splunk Software training class. “I have attended both AWS DevOps and Splunk Fundamentals 2 training available through Tech Frederick. With the latter training, and a bit more studying, I successfully passed the Splunk "Power Core Power User" certification exam. This hands-on training will be directly applicable in my work, the certification will be helpful in my annual review and enhancing my credentials. I am truly grateful to Tech Frederick for making these training opportunities available.”

The successful community partnership of techfrederick, combined with funding from the Maryland Department of Labor’s EARN program, has helped create a local hub for tech organizations to find support. When asked to comment on techfrederick’s positive impacts for individuals, such as upskilling, taking on additional responsibilities in their roles, and community connections with others in their field, Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson said “Labor is pleased to support the successful Aspire Training program led by techfrederick through the state’s nationally-recognized EARN program. This critical funding will ensure that employers in the region have the highly-skilled and well-trained workforce necessary to fill their talent pipeline while supporting the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

About techfrederick:
techfrederick has been formed to cultivate all things tech. We identify, highlight, support, foster awareness of, advocate for, and develop Frederick’s growing high tech community through community education and human resource development, entrepreneurship training programs, and related events.

Contact: Amy Pontius,, 916-380-9875

In partnership with the State of Maryland, Department of Labor, techfrederick – a consortium of local IT business leadership – is offering access to training, in order to upgrade occupational skills and increase employability within the IT industry. The best tech focused companies in the area have come together to identify the skills that talented people need to increase marketability and compete for positions in the growing technology fields.

The ASPIRE Training Program serves anyone within the community who is looking to enhance their skill set within the tech arena and offers customized training focused on critical occupations and skill shortages through the Maryland Department of Labor EARN Grant.

Learn More:
Contact: Brooke Warburton,, 301-456-4167

About EARN:
EARN Maryland is a state-funded, competitive workforce development grant program that is industry-led, regional in focus, and a proven strategy for helping businesses cultivate the skilled workforce they need to compete. It is flexible and innovative, designed to ensure that Maryland employers have the talent they need to compete and grow in an ever-changing 21st century economy.
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Brooke Warburton
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