St. Andrew Program Details

St. Andrew Academy Program:
The St. Andrew Academy is an accessible IT and spiritual enrichment training program designed and adapted for persons with disabilities.  It’s goal is to enable meaningful employment and spiritual growth for our young Catholic candidates to help them achieve their full God-given potential in their career, and faith-life.  The prototype program will be launched in 2021 in the Archdiocese of Detroit and is built on successful secular pilot programs in the US and Europe with high success rates.  We intend to offer this program tuition-free to qualified candidates who should achieve globally recognized IT certification and meaningful jobs in less than a year.  We are delivering this through the partnership and support of government groups, employers, community groups, Catholic Parishes and Schools, as well as service agencies. 

We aspire to transform lives, be beacon of hope, and demonstrate our faith in action.

Executive Summary:

  1. Employment for people with disabilities remains chronically low in nearly every country of the world.
  2. Employers struggle to find capable, motivated talent while millions of people with disabilities remain unemployed.
  3. Many young adult Catholics with disabilities have their relationship with the Church and the Lord atrophy once they leave school.  
  4. The St. Andrew Academy builds employable skills to unlock the full God-given potential of people with disabilities through meaningful employment and spiritual growth. 
  5. The St. Andrew Academy is the first of its kind program being delivered in partnership with the US Catholic Church and Archdiocese of Detroit.  It is a holistic program which include technical skills, ready for work development, and spiritual growth delivered tuition free to qualified students in early 2021.
  6. We see this as an opportunity to demonstrate our faith and transform the lives of all we touch.
The problem we are solving:
  1. High unemployment among People with Disabilities: One in five people with disabilities are employed. Disability employment has not materially increased in over 30 years while the labor participation rate increases for others.  [i] 
  2. Millions of IT jobs Go Unfilled: While millions of people with disabilities are unemployed, many IT jobs are going unfilled.  “The US has nearly 1 million open IT jobs”[ii]
  3. The Shortage of Talent is most acute for Cybersecurity Skills: “Cybersecurity talent crunch to create 3.5 million unfilled jobs globally By 2021” . “82 percent of employers report a shortage of cybersecurity skills”iii], [iv]
  4. The Covid-19 Pandemic is increasing the skills gap: “70% of Organizations to increase cybersecurity spending following COVID-19 pandemic”.  [v] [vi]
  5. People with Disabilities are a huge untapped potential talent pool: The chronic unemployment of people with disabilities can be traced to the lack of education and work experience.  Few candidates meet typical requirements of a 4-year degree and some work experience.  Low high school graduation, college enrollment rates, and college graduation rates for people with disabilities leaves many students unemployable for most in-demand high paying jobs.   

The St. Andrew Academy:
We are bridging the vast potential of people with disabilities to in-demand job opportunities through an innovative IT academy and help them realize their full God-given potential. 
This program creates specific and certified skills to help meet the strong demand for cybersecurity and network technician roles. We integrate the technical skills development with a faith enrichment program (Faith Pathways) to enable our graduates to achieve their full God-given potential in employment and in their Faith-life. 

This program prototype will be hosted in Livonia Michigan co-located with the Divine Mercy Academy on the St. Genevieve campus.  We plan to recruit candidates from area Catholic Parishes and Schools.  Our target candidates are students with disabilities who are unemployed, have 10th grade reading /math skills, interest in IT roles, and have an aptitude for information technology. 

We expect to complete technical training, achieve certification and secure an employment internship in less than a year.  The program is expected to be provided at no cost to the students (funded through government, partner, and employer sponsorships), and is focused on entry-level IT skills leveraging the Cisco networking Academy.  Target jobs are high paying network security analyst, and network technician roles.

The program will be delivered free of charge to eligible and qualified students through the generous support from Michigan Rehabilitation Services, community groups, area Catholic Parishes and schools, and area employers.

Our goal is to prepare and enable our candidates for a lifetime of success by providing valuable skills, work experiences, and spiritual growth to secure meaningful jobs and enable them for a lifetime of success.  We are aligning partners who share our vision and mission for this program.  All contribute to program success and all benefit from it.

Following the formal  training program of 20 weeks, we aim to have all of our candidates transition to an employment apprenticeship or internship with an area employer.  We are actively engaging area employers to pre-plan IT internships and apprenticeships to assure full employment opportunities.  The "Bridge Academy" program, on which St. Andrew's is based, is achieving over 90% employment rates for its candidates.  We aspire for all our candidates to achieve full employment and their full God-given potential.

Planned Curriculum and Certification:
We are leveraging the Cisco networking Academy curriculum and an innovative ecosystem to offer this "train to hire” IT inclusive Academy program specifically targeting people with disabilities.This innovative program is develops the employable skills for in-demand entry IT roles in less than a year. 

The foundational technical training program is 20 weeks in duration.  It is led by an experienced and certified instructor with assistance from a teacher's assistant experienced in assisting special learners.  Candidates will be trained in networking technology and introduced to network / cyber security.  We built the program to achieve certification by Cisco Systems as either a Cisco Certified Technician (CCT).

Our innovative Faith Pathways enrichment program will expand our candidate's Faith, within the Church to raise their capacity to know, love and serve the Lord.  The Faith Pathways program will have a foundational track for students that require foundational religious education and an enrichment track for those that have already achieved full Sacramental participation in the Catholic Church.  Both the foundational and enrichment programs will be delivered by skilled catechists.  The Faith Pathways curriculum and content is  being developed in partnership with the Archdiocese of Detroit, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) and the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA).

The St. Andrew Academy will also include integrated ready-for-work training for our candidates to succeed int the work environment.  The ready-for-work program is being led by job coaches and guest speakers to enable our candidates to present their best self to their employers and in their workplace.



How it Will Be Delivered:
We are creating an ecosystem of capable, mission aligned organizations to deliver this program.
  • St. Andrew Staff will lead and deliver the Information Technology, Faith Pathways and ready for work training. 
  • Cisco Systems will provide the curriculum, certification and testing and program advice for the Information Technology certification program.
  • The Archdiocese of Detroit, National Catholic Partnership on Disability and National Catholic Education Association will collaborate with St. Andrew staff to develop the Faith Pathways program which will be delivered by skilled St. Andrew Catechist(s).
  • Michigan Rehabilitation Services will participate in the program to enrich the learning experience and support the program with State and Federal resources to enable us to deliver the program tuition free to accepted candidates.
  • Area Employers will be engaged to be involved throughout to enrich the learning, provide support and hire candidates upon program completion, typically in an internship or apprenticeship.
  • Area Catholic Schools and Parishes will participate to support the spiritual growth, provide candidate referrals, and help arrange employer partnerships.

Following a Successful Model:
We are building the St. Andrew Academy based on a model and best practices from successful prototypes in several locations in the US and Europe.  Additional details on this “Bridge Academy” model can be found at the website:

  • Chronic unemployment a major challenge for people with disabilities.
  • There is high demand for entry level ICT talent, and a lack of qualified candidates for many ICT jobs.
  • There is great potential for young adults with disabilities to grow in the Catholic Church and in their capacity to know, love, and serve the Lord.
  • The St. Andrew Academy is built on a successful model of bridging potential to opportunity.
  • This program is impactful, scalable, replicable, and financially sustainable.
  • Everyone benefits: governments, employers, service agencies, advocacy groups, and most importantly people with disabilities.
  • Together we will transform the lives of people with disabilities and enable them for a lifetime of success in their job, career, and faith life.

For more information:
To request more information as a student candidate:  Click Here

To apply for the program:  Click Here

To request information on program sponsorship: Click Here

To request information on employer partnerships:  Click Here

[i] Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Cybercrime Magazine,
Cybersecurity Jobs Report sponsored by Herjavec Group ,
Center for Strategic and International Studies,