FlagshipKansas.Tech is gaining momentum – most recently celebrating the success of its inaugural Ad Astra Technology Summit held in south central Kansas earlier this fall, which brought together more than 150 industry professionals, educators, government officials, and other community leaders. The one-day conference featured networking opportunities, tech awards, and informative sessions on digital skills development, industry panels, apprenticeship programs, and new/startup business enablement.
As the state technology council, Flagship is making waves in the tech sector with its awareness, workforce, and education initiatives. Flagship was recognized by the Wichita Business Journal as the Ecosystem Advocate in its 2022 Inno Fire Awards for Flagship’s efforts in pushing the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem forward, and that impact extends beyond the Greater Wichita area through its statewide programs. More than 40 Kansas companies and organizations have supported the mission through membership and sponsorship, and the organization has recently received more than $645,000 in grant funding from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Microsoft for workforce development initiatives. New companies, organizations, and startups continue to join the cause to propel the Kansas tech industry forward.
The Kansas Department of Commerce awarded Flagship a $546,289 State Apprenticeship Equity, Expansion and Innovation (SAEEI) Project grant to create a statewide Registered Apprenticeship Program for tech roles. The goal is to serve 20 employers and train 107 apprentices over four years, and a dozen businesses have already expressed interest in the program. Kansas companies can receive $5,300 for participating and an additional $2,000 per apprentice towards training to help fill open positions. Through the grant, Flagship added a second full time position, a Registered Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, to oversee Flagship’s role as Registered Apprenticeship intermediary and manage the daily grant activities.
Flagship also received a $100,000 grant from Microsoft Philanthropies with funds for organization support, the second large scale investment by Microsoft into the organization following a $50,000 grant received in 2020. The current award is part of Microsoft’s Skills for Jobs initiative and UpSkill-A-Thon competition launching in nine organizations across the country. The grant will help the Kansas workforce become more prepared for in-demand roles in a digital economy. The month-long competition kicks off October 17 and includes $10,000 in prize money for completing coursework on topics such as project management, data and business analysis, software development and more. Those interested can learn more and register at communityskilling.org/flagshipkansas.
Flagship and other organizations across the state have also worked tirelessly to lobby for computer science education initiatives, resulting in significant wins over the last year. Following approval by the Kansas Board of Education to allow computer science to count as a core graduation requirement, Governor Laura Kelly signed bipartisan House Bill 2466 in May to promote computer science education in Kansas schools and provide additional funding for current and aspiring teachers to receive training in computer science programs.
These programs and initiatives have been led by FlagshipKansas.Tech’s board and Executive Director Ashley Scheideman, who recently accepted a position with Flagship member Millennium Corporation, a national defense contractor and cybersecurity company for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies. Scheideman will work out of Millennium’s regional office in Wichita, which was established in 2021.
“Millennium is an example of our state’s exciting growth in the tech sector, and we are proud to have Ashley continue to move the tech industry forward in our state through a Flagship member company,” FlagshipKansas.Tech Board Chair and Keycentrix President Luis Rodriguez said. “Ashley is passionate about Kansas tech and computer science education, and she will continue to serve on our advisory board as a member of the Education Committee.”
Flagship is accepting applications for the Executive Director role on Kansas Works. Companies and organizations can click the links to learn about membership, sponsorship, or participating in a Flagship program.