We have stressed the need for employers to put “skin in the game” by committing to providing pathways to full time employment based on objective criteria. In 2020 we again supported employers who have done that, as well as innovative partnerships and start-ups aimed at providing training for in-demand jobs.
In 2020, we continued to support Coop Careers Inc. (COOP), a jobs training program, because it provides a clear pathway to full-time employment. It targets underserved and underemployed CUNY students and recent graduates, and has a proven record of jobs placement in the digital media industry.
COOP works with nearly 200 digital employers like Google Partners to meet, interview and hire candidates. Google Partners are ad agencies that collectively spend billions on Google’s advertising platforms; finding qualified talent is a major barrier to growth in this industry that is also grappling publicly with a stark lack of diversity. COOP has similar partnerships with both Microsoft and Oath (formerly Yahoo!). Additionally, the advertising world is concentrated among five major holding companies: Publicis, IPG, WPP, Omnicom, and Dentsu, all of whom are moving from traditional to digital media; most of COOP graduates are employed within these networks. COOP has crafted a unique model that capitalizes on its alumni working in the industry as well as the referral model that exists within the digital marketing industry. Direct referrals are hired more quickly, onboarded faster, and stay longer than those found through other methods. Through engaged alumni who act as COOP ambassadors within their companies, COOP makes sure that referrals are going to underrepresented college graduates, diversifying the company’s talent pipeline and opening new doors for future COOP graduates.
We have considered the partnership between The Door and Gap a prime example of our philosophy of supporting programs where employers put real “skin in the game” in terms of job commitments based on objective criteria, and we continued to support this strategic partnership in 2020. The program (currently branded as This Way Onward (TWON)) capitalized on the need for salespeople in some sectors of the retail industry – underserved youth who complete a customized job training through The Door are guaranteed retail jobs.
While New York City has numerous workforce programs, the vast majority focus on internships without strategic consideration to ensure participants are placed in a job or on career-tracks, with advancement opportunities—which is a key priority in the TWON job program. Old Navy (where the program is currently housed) is a good match for underserved young people because its customer base is receptive to younger salespeople, there are few entry-level skill requirements, flexible hours and numerous advancement opportunities.
Here to Here is incubating a program called CareerWise New York (CWNY) which seeks to establish a Swiss apprenticeship program in New York City. In response to employer needs, in 2020, we supported CWNY’s partnership with Year Up and Genesys Works (another Heckscher grantee) to launch a remote bootcamp to prepare students for office jobs. CareerWise began in Colorado as an effort to adapt the Swiss apprenticeship model to the US environment. The apprenticeships are focused on three industries: IT, financial services, and business operations. CWNY started with 91 students that were selected through an application process and has since greatly expanded in select partner high schools. Selected apprentices were matched with one of 17 employers. Apprentices are selected in their sophomore year and begin programming as rising juniors. The apprenticeship lasts three years with an increasing number of hours spent on the job each year.
There has been a rapid shift across all industries to leverage cloud computing which has created an unprecedented workforce gap. in 2020, we supported the incubation of a pilot of The Last Mile Talent Development initiative (Last Mile), a software infrastructure engineer training and job placement program that matches college students and recent graduates with high-demand jobs in cloud computing. The pilot launched in July 2020. Students committed to 16 hours of classes per week including three weeknight evenings and all-day Saturday programming. Last Mile expects a minimum of 50% of the students to be placed with employer partners and will work with students who do not get hired by employer partners to find other positions. The organization has developed a revenue-generating model and asks employer partners to pay for each student they hire.
We supported the development of a strategic partnership between two large Queens middle schools, MS 216 and MS 217, a career and technical education (CTE) high school, Thomas A. Edison, and a nonprofit private college, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, to develop a CTE Pathway from middle school through college and into a career. Well over 90% of Vaughn graduates find gainful employment in careers with substantial salary and career advancement tracks upon graduation. Vaughn has the capacity to serve more students than it currently does, which prompted us to create this unique pathway with the goal of students entering Vaughn with a full year of college credit. In the first year of the partnership, the four schools began to develop the CTE Pathway by aligning curriculum, identifying student eligibility criteria, and determining academic milestones. In 2020, the partners began implementing the pathways developed for middle school, continued to build out the high school pathway, and created the courses and co-teaching approach to implementing college-level courses in high school.