Workforce development and reimagining career pathways in America

Every Gift Matters | News | 4 Min.
Written By: Kelsey Thompson | Posted On: 05/12/2020

The Morgridge Family Foundation (MFF), in partnership with MIT Solve, has announced a new initiative to elevate pre-existing, tech-driven solutions to career pathways along with a coalition of partners like New Profit, IBM, CSU Global, and local workforce development boards across the U.S to go live on June 22nd, 2020. 

Previously, MFF allocated over $2 million and leadership support to the immediate response efforts of COVID-19. By working with community leaders and trusted partners, MFF was able to support food banks, child care for first responders, healthcare workers, and vulnerable populations. While the need for adaptive response efforts was covered in our earlier posts, today marks the next phase of MFF’s COVID-19 response efforts: reimagining career pathways in America. 

MFF is committed to reimagining workforce development programs that support workers looking to advance their careers. In 2019, MFF brought industry leaders, education providers, and philanthropists together to spark honest conversations about improving access to well-paying jobs that, in turn, break the cycle of poverty. 

As college tuition and student debt continue to balloon, a four-year degree is financially unobtainable for much of the population. There are 100 million Americans in the workforce without a college degree who lack options for high-paying, stable employment. Many turn to the gig economy which allows for flexibility and multiple streams of income, but increases the number of people without full-time salaries, benefits, or pathways to advancement. 

MFF’s partner organizations like Merit America show it is possible to empower people in these situations to obtain new, in-demand skills where industries report a shortage of skilled workers. It’s a win-win; individuals have career pathways and industries from healthcare to information technology have a workforce to fill job vacancies. American ingenuity was on full display as innovators developed new opportunities for workers.

Then COVID-19 hit. There were 20.5 million jobs lost in April 2020 alone, and the decline in jobs brought the unemployment rate to 14.7 percent– the worst since the Great Depression. Suddenly American jobs became a central focus for the entire country. 

Today, MFF Chief Disruptor Carrie Morgridge announced that MFF has joined forces with MIT Solve and New Profit to create career pathways that work for everyone. More than ever, MFF is investing in innovative ideas for the workforce development challenges our country faces.  The immense changes COVID-19 brought to the job market and economy only increases the urgency for connecting the needs of job seekers to the needs of employers. In the aftermath of the pandemic, new technologies and innovations will be more necessary than ever to bridge the US workforce with employment opportunities. 

To that end, MFF is in the works on an exciting new challenge supporting entrepreneurial innovations that utilize technology and a human-centric approach. No one sector can solve this issue alone, so MFF is encouraging employers, academia, and philanthropy to join in the conversation. MFF is looking for scalable, tech-driven solutions that have the creativity, adaptability, and resilience to build new pathways that will help people access great jobs. 

The Challenge will open for innovators to apply starting on June 22, 2020 on MIT Solve’s website. In the meantime, we’ll be sharing information, articles, and thought leadership on this subject from our partners and beyond. Stay tuned for more information and the official announcement in June!