St. Andrew Program Details

St. Andrew Academy Program:
The St. Andrew Academy is an accessible IT and spiritual development 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 life’s full potential in their career, and faith-life.  The prototype program will be launched in early 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 see this as an opportunity 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. The St. Andrew Academy builds employable skills to unlock the potential of people with disabilities through employment and spiritual growth. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
This program creates specific and certified skills to help meet the strong demand for cybersecurity and network technician roles.

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 IT aptitude. 

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.

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 technical training program is either a 4 1/2 month or 9 month program delivered over 2 or 4 terms depending on which program students qualify for.  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) or a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). 

We are also providing ready-for-work training Integrated with the technical training program 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.

We are also offering our candidates a spiritual development program to progress in their relationship with their faith and the Lord.  The spiritual development program is led by experienced Catechetical leaders, is built to include faith development best practices from the Catholic Church in the US and the Archdiocese of Detroit.  

How it Will Be Delivered:
We are creating an ecosystem of capable, mission aligned organizations to deliver this program.
  • Andrew Center Staff will lead and deliver the program.
  • Cisco Systems will provide the curriculum, certification and testing process, and program advice.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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,