Adult students from underserved communities now have the unique opportunity to enroll in a new program launched by The Linux Foundation in partnership with Goodwill.

Dubbed the "Extended Learning Linux Foundation Scholarship Program," it will offer students aged 17 to 50 the opportunity to gain a high school diploma, become an in-demand professional through the program's certification system and receive enough credentials needed to enter post-secondary education.

The Linux Foundation will initially launch the scholarship program in Austin, Texas, which has been considered a prime location for testing the program because several cloud computing and tech companies such as Rackspace have mushroomed in the area.

"Many of our students have expressed interest in IT careers, so we are thrilled to partner with The Linux Foundation to provide them with the training needed to enable them to break into this growing industry," said Goodwill Central Texas Vice President of Education Matt Williams. "Without this training, most of these students would never have the opportunity to pursue this type of career."

The courses offered in the program are online and self-paced, and students can access them for free on campus. They also get free career counseling sessions and guidance from professional Linux server administrators who are more than willing to answer any questions when students need some help in understanding the material.

Essentially speaking, the free Linux certification program is not really geared toward teaching students how to code, neither does it promise to help them enter a programming career. Instead, students will learn the things that are needed in setting up and maintaining the Linux servers.

"This new program should help grow the Linux and open source talent pool, while providing hundreds of people with stable and rewarding employment to support themselves and their families," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at Linux Foundation.

The foundation's role will be to provide free access to the program's training materials and exams. Other components such as professional teachers, on-site child care, computer labs and exclusive bus routes to the facility will be handled by Goodwill.

As a nonprofit organization, Goodwill has been helping people gain access to career advancement training, become employed and take advantage of other community-based programs that they offer. These include programs for the homeless, those with criminal background, undereducated individuals and people who are challenged because of a disability.

Through its partnership with The Linux Foundation, Goodwill will be able to bring new opportunities to these individuals while making them qualified candidates to enter Linux's pool of experienced and open source professionals.

"That's where it falls on Goodwill, to be frank," said Williams. "We need to give them real-life experience, not just training in the lab."

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