Upskilling fund plans to aid 30,000 displaced workers

February 18, 2021

JFF, Opportunity@Work, SkillUp, Social Finance, and Stand Together co-found $30 million SkillUp Together Fund with pioneer donations from the Charles Koch Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, and Walmart.org

San Francisco, CA—Today the SkillUp Coalition, which provides displaced workers with opportunities to gain new skills and secure in-demand jobs, announced the launch of a fund with the goal of benefitting 30,000 workers displaced by COVID-19. Known as the SkillUp Together Fund, money raised immediately goes to recipients in the form of grants that cover the cost of training, equipment, or special support services. The Fund will target those most impacted by the pandemic who are making under $40,000 a year and have less than a bachelor’s degree. SkillUp aims to raise $30 million in total and disperse the funds fully within 12 to 18 months.

“Since the launch of SkillUp, our aim has been to quickly re-skill and re-employ those who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Steve Lee, Executive Director of SkillUp. “We’ve experienced rapid growth in the number of workers we’ve been able to help, and this fundraising effort will enable us to scale that impact even more. Every $1,000 directly supports an upskilling opportunity for a COVID-impacted worker and their family.”

Training will be provided by education partners who have been pre-vetted for their success in serving low-income workers, adults who lack a college degree, women, and Black and Hispanic participants—all of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. These best-in-field training partners also have significant track records of success, with completion rates of more than 80%, job placement rates of over 70%, and regular earnings increases of $20,000 or more through rapid upskilling for participants.

Launched in July of last year with a handful of partners, the SkillUp Coalition has grown to include over 50 organizations and now offers 60 career pathways in four industries (tech, healthcare, business, and skilled trades). Five organizations have come together to co-found this fund, including SkillUp, JFFOpportunity@WorkSocial Finance, and Stand Together. Pioneer donors include the Charles Koch Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, and Walmart.org.

The Stand Together philanthropic community aims to contribute a total of $5 million to the fund. “We are proud to support a community-driven approach that is removing barriers for those in need of training and professional opportunities during a difficult time,” said Akash Chougule, Stand Together Vice President of Economic Opportunity. “As part of our vision for a society that empowers everyone to thrive by removing the challenges that stand in the way of their potential, we know that a bottom-up solution like SkillUp can help us reach that goal in a more effective and timely manner than the alternatives proposed by top-down policymakers.”

Through rapid reskilling grants administered by Social Finance, the SkillUp Together Fund has already raised $5.3 million and distributed $500,000 to benefit workers through the following training providers:

  • Creating IT Futures: The leading charity of CompTIA which creates on-ramps for people to prepare for, secure and succeed in IT careers, particularly for under-represented populations in the IT workforce.
  • Generation: Generation USA prepares, places and supports people in life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  • i.c.stars: Using project-based learning and immersion teaching, i.c.stars provides an opportunity for change-driven, future leaders to develop skills in business and technology.
  • MedCerts: MedCerts provides the opportunity of a better future with personalized, short-term online skills training in healthcare or IT certification.
  • MeritAmerica: Merit America provides a path to skilled careers for adults without Bachelor’s Degrees. Programs are fast, flexible and focused on what employers need most.
  • PerScholas: PerScholas’ mission is to advance economic equity through rigorous training for tech careers, and to connect skilled talent to leading businesses.

About the SkillUp Coalition
SkillUp, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit coalition, is helping the more than 20 million frontline workers impacted by COVID-19 get rehired for in-demand jobs in high-growth industries. The Coalition also enables partners to share best practices, collaborate on shared challenges, and participate in public engagement campaigns that help COVID-affected workers begin a prosperous new stage in their careers. Consisting of leading training and education providers, employers, technology developers, and job readiness nonprofits, SkillUp provides career navigation, training programs, and job opportunities to help frontline workers secure their place in the economy of tomorrow. For more information, please visit www.skillup.org.

About Stand Together
Stand Together empowers people dedicated to helping others improve their lives. Our philanthropic community tackles some of the biggest challenges of our times, including reforming the nation’s criminal justice system, strengthening K-12 education, helping neighbors beat poverty and addiction, empowering everyone to find fulfilling work, and more. We can all make a greater difference by uniting together than by acting on our own. Learn more at www.standtogether.org.