What if you could go from making a paltry $9 an hour to making something like $22 an hour in a matter of months? For students of Columbus’ i.c.stars program, that’s not outside the realm of possibility. The program focuses on honing technical skills in underemployed, minority communities, establishing relationships with local corporate partners to create and hire out a qualified talent pool.

IGS, a natural gas and electricity provider based in Dublin, became a project partner with i.c.stars for the program’s inaugural class in January. For a class of 16 (out of more than 100 applicants), IGS provided a business problem that the students had to solve.