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Free Training and Certification: Linux Foundation Taking Submissions for LiFT Scholarships

The Linux Foundation is accepting applications through April 3Oth for Linux Foundation Training Scholarships that offer free training and certification across 12 open source categories.

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin with Linux founder Linus Torvalds
Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin onstage with Linux founder and developer, Linus Torvalds, in 2016. Linux Foundation, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Linux Foundation announced on Friday that it’s taking applications for LiFT (Linux Foundation Training) Scholarships through the end of the month. The scholarships, that cover the cost for the foundation’s online training courses and certification exams, have been handed out on a yearly bases under a program the foundation began in 2011.

One of the best ways to jump start or improve a career in computer tech is through training and certifications. While there are plenty of venues offering certification programs, they’re not all created equal, and some are more valued by the people who make hiring decisions and hand out promotions than others, and certifications from the Linux Foundation are considered to be about as good as it gets.

The trouble is, Linux Foundation certifications are expensive, putting them out of reach for many people who could benefit from having them. This is especially true, of course, for those who are not part of a demographic that checks the “white” and “male” boxes — which is but one of several social problems the Linux Foundation is attempting to address with this program.

“The Linux Foundation is committed to bringing more talent into the open source community, which involves reaching people who have traditionally been underrepresented in open source,” the foundation says on its website. “Our goal is to increase access to open source training, expand diversity in technology and create a clear pathway to the most in-demand and lucrative jobs in the IT industry.”

In other words, the foundation (which is made-up of companies needing open source talent, mainly enterprises invested in open source software, whether as users, developers, vendors, or in some other way) is hoping to provide opportunities to rising and next generation developers and sysadmins, who will help shape the future of Linux and open source software going forward.

Specifically, the foundation says, it’s seeking those who “do not otherwise have the ability to attend training courses or take certification exams.”

The scholarship program is global. An applicant’s location on our planet doesn’t matter, the foundation says, “as long as they demonstrate a passion for these technologies and a proven interest in becoming an open source professional.”

The LiFT Structure

LiFT prizes are handed out by category. This year, there are a dozen categories, each with courses addressing different areas of interest, with names like “Teens-in-Training” (the only category open to those under 18), “SysAdmin Super Star,” and “Cloud Captain.” Two categories were added this year: “Linux Kernel Guru” and “Cybersecurity Champion.”

The scholarships simply pay the fees for one online class and one certification exam, with a couple of slight complications: those in the “Linux Kernel Gurus” category have the choice to enroll in instructor-led training instead of online classes if they desire, and all courses are subject to limitations imposed by their category.

Traditionally, the foundation has made 30 awards annually, but since 2020 it has handed out 500 each year as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, we decided to vastly increase the number of scholarships to 500 to be awarded in order to help some of those affected,” Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director said in a June 30, 2021 statement. “With the effects of the pandemic lingering, we realized it was essential to award 500 again this year rather than return to historic levels.”

So far, the foundation hasn’t announced whether the number of awards will remain at 500 or return to pre-pandemic levels. For the past two years, the number of scholarships has been announced in June, alongside the names of that year’s recipients.

Those who would like to register for a scholarship can do so online. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PDT on April 30, 2022.

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