Dorsey launches not-for-profit focused on tech jobs

Former ExactTarget CEO Scott Dorsey on Monday launched a technology-focused not-for-profit that aims to close the widening gap between tech jobs and qualified candidates for those jobs.

The organization is called Nextech, and was created by reorganizing the ExactTarget Foundation under a new name and mission. Dorsey, its chairman, and Karen Jung, its executive director, will retain those titles and oversee Nextech's mission to help cultivate tech talent in Indiana by focusing on K-12 students.

"If you look across the state of Indiana, fewer than 20 percent of high schools are teaching computer science, and even in those schools it tends to be an elective with very few girls and minorities taking classes," Dorsey said Monday morning. "We want to change that narrative and have every school in Indiana offer computer science."

Nextech will look to close the skills gap on two main fronts. First, it will partner with national computer science advocacy group Code.org to bring teacher development and curriculum to schools across the state. Code.org's partnership with Nextech is the third of its kind.

The inaugural cohort will comprise about a dozen schools, which will be announced May 12. The training and programming comes at no cost to participating schools, Nextech officials said, and will be funded by Nextech.

Second, it envisions internships for high school students to facilitate real-world experience. This involves companies and not-for-profits that have tech needs, Dorsey said. Partnering organizations will be announced later this year.

According to EmployIndy’s Hire Up initiative, the number of tech jobs in central Indiana is projected to grow 27 percent, compared with approximately 15 percent for all other occupations, by 2025.

Meanwhile, only 19 percent of Indiana's 525 high schools offer computer science classes, according to the Indiana Department of Education, and only about 5 percent offered AP computer science courses last year. Those classes are a strong indicator of interest in computer-related college degrees, Jung said.

Unlike the private ExactTarget Foundation, Nextech is a not-for-profit that can accept donations from the broader public. It will be housed rent-free at the Central Indiana Community Foundation at 615 Alabama St., officials said, and will seek to hire five to 10 employees by the year's end.

Dorsey declined to disclose the organization's projected annual operating budget.

Dorsey co-founded ExactTarget in 2000 and helmed the operation through its July 2013 sale to Salesforce.com for $2.5 billion. He stepped down as CEO last August and, in January, became chairman of Tinderbox, a local sales-technology software firm.

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