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CIGNA Helps Prepare City Youth for Careers in Information Technology

'Computer Kids' Headed for IT Convention in Los Angeles

PHILADELPHIA and HARTFORD, Conn., July 27, 2006 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today, the "computer kids" practice in Philadelphia and Hartford. Next month, with CIGNA's help, they will be on their way to Los Angeles for a national convention for Information Technology (IT). In time, they hope to become leaders in IT across the country.

CIGNA has taken 40 high school students in Philadelphia and Hartford under its wing through participation in the High School Computer Competition (HSCC), a core program developed by the Black Data Processing Association (BDPA). CIGNA is a national sponsor of the BDPA, a national organization of IT professionals that provides education, mentoring and networking to minority youth interested in IT careers. The HSCC includes rigorous training and culminates in a national competition where students can win computers and scholarships.

"Teaching and mentoring students is my way of giving back to a group that helped me," said William Kenneth Freeman, IT service management director at CIGNA who has been a BDPA member since 2002. "As a volunteer, CIGNA mentors have the opportunity to teach students about how to be effective communicators and presenters and work with each other as a team to accomplish goals. It's a great way to reach and teach others."

The "computer kids" underwent 20 weeks of training by CIGNA IT professionals and others to prepare for a Regional BDPA HSCC earlier this month in Washington, D.C. Under the CIGNA IT professionals, the students learned various applications -- from the basics of Microsoft Office software such as Excel and PowerPoint to advanced software for website design and programming. CIGNA also donated laptops to the seven top students to help further their advancement.

Now CIGNA is grooming the high school teams for the BDPA National Convention in Los Angeles, Aug. 2-6, where they will compete against students from BDPA chapters across the country. The CIGNA teams from Philadelphia and Bloomfield who attend the national convention will undergo an eight-hour exam. They will be graded on project management, collaboration, team dynamics, public speaking and presentation and the creation of a functional web portal. Convention winners will receive awards ranging from scholarships to laptops donated by corporate sponsors.

"We take great pride in helping to develop the IT leaders of tomorrow and showing our commitment to developing a diverse workforce. And CIGNA benefits greatly from this arrangement," said Matthew Hintz, CIGNA Human Resources senior director.

"As a corporate sponsor, we gain access to the BDPA membership base, which provides a diverse talent pool from which to recruit prospective IT employees. Additionally, the BDPA offers opportunities to CIGNA's current IT staff to enhance their technical and professional skills. Our partnership with the BDPA also builds recognition of CIGNA in the communities that CIGNA serves," Hintz said.


As a Business of Caring, CIGNA provides employers with benefits, expertise and services that improve the health, well-being and productivity of their employees. Serving customers, clients and members in the U.S. and around the globe, CIGNA's operating subsidiaries offer a full portfolio of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits and group life, accident and disability insurance.

About the Black Data Processing Association

Founded in 1975 by Earl Pace and the late David Wimberly, BDPA is a global member-focused organization that serves the professional well-being of its stakeholders. BDPA remains committed to excellence in delivering expertise by providing a wide spectrum of resources to its members, corporate sponsors, businesses, educational institutions and the community. The organization is a catalyst for professional growth and technical development for those in the IT industry. With 54 chapters across the United States, BDPA is the premier organization for African Americans in technology. The BDPA national headquarters is located in Greenbelt, Maryland. For more information about BDPA, call 1-800-727-BDPA or visit http://www.bdpa.org/.

CIGNA Corporation

Contact: Gloria Barone, CIGNA Corporation, +1-215-761-4758,
[email protected]

Web site: http://www.cigna.com/

Company News On-Call: http://www.prnewswire.com/comp/165050.html

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