Ask Us Anything: Financial Innovations in the Workforce System
This Q&A Digest has been derived from the Ask Us Anything session on “Financial Innovations in the Workforce System” held on October 14, 2020, with Angela Jackson, partner with New Profit, a philanthropy organization; Tracy Palandjian, chief executive and cofounder of Social Finance, a nonprofit group; and Jason Tyszko, vice president of the Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
- Employer needs are changing, resulting in an increasing mismatch between the skills that are taught and learned in higher education and what is needed on the job. At the same time, the cost of higher education has skyrocketed.
- In the past, colleges and universities have served as a path to the middle class for many. Today, this ideal situation is increasingly not the case as a growing number of graduates enter the workforce with deficient job skills and crushing student loan debts. Now, many wonder if higher education is worth its cost.
- A number of workforce development programs and talent financing models have emerged in recent years to address challenges posed by higher education’s lack of flexibility. Programs such as coding bootcamps have demonstrated success, with enrolled students gaining higher job placement rates while carrying lower debt burdens than graduates of higher education degree programs.
- Businesses and chambers of commerce across the country are eager to join forces with various stakeholders to promote workforce development. A number of public-private collaboratives have been established, but they need additional financing options to raise the capital necessary to provide scalable solutions.
- Workforce training programs also need funding for wraparound services including childcare, transportation, living stipends, rental aid, and other nondirect costs of education.
The Atlanta Fed’s Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity offers a number of data tools and publications to help you track unemployment, reemployment, and other potential policy and practice suggestions while you manage recovery from the pandemic.
Federal Reserve Bank
Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity Events describes upcoming events and includes registration links for Ask Us Anything webinar sessions.
Opportunity Occupations Monitor tracks trends in jobs that offer salaries of at least the U.S. annual median wage (adjusted for local cost of living differences) for which employers do not require a bachelor's degree—opportunity occupations—in states and metro areas.
Workforce Currents includes articles on various workforce topics addressing research, policy, and practice.
Econ Education web pages provide personal financial planning tools and tips as well as other educational resources.
Resources from our Panelists:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. It educates the public on the conditions needed for businesses and communities to thrive, how business positively affects communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.
- Talent Finance Initiative explores new ways to invest in people and skills that keep pace with innovation and advance economic opportunity, diversity, inclusion, and competitiveness, recognizing that current approaches to financing education and career readiness fail to meet labor market needs.
Social Finance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. It brings uncommon partners together for a common purpose: to measurably improve the lives of people in need.
- The Acuitus Career Impact Bond provides training to 300 students who are unemployed or underemployed, including veterans and civilians, with the goal of moving graduates into sustainable, leading-edge IT careers.
New Profit supports breakthrough social entrepreneurs and organizations that are tackling entrenched social challenges and transforming systems to make them more equitable.
- New Profit’s Future of Work Grand Challenge seeks promising ideas and solutions to address the challenges posed by automation, a growing skills gap, low wages, and crippling student debt, all of which have been heightened by the global pandemic and rising inequities.
Event Q & A
New Talent and Workforce Development Financing Models
How is a career impact bond different from a traditional income share agreement?
The career impact bond (CIB) is a form of income share agreement (ISA) that allows people to pursue career training free of charge. However, while traditional ISAs can be broad in scope, the CIB is targeted for underserved students, particularly those who face barriers tied to low income, criminal justice involvement, and immigration status. The CIB allows students to enroll in training by using impact investors' capital to cover their upfront costs and essential support services. After completion, those who gain meaningful employment repay the program costs as a fixed percentage of their income, which is capped at a set dollar amount for a certain period of time. People who do not obtain meaningful employment after graduation do not pay anything. These payments are shared between the impact investors and training providers, aligning incentives and ensuring that all parties involved are focused on student success.
How can public-private partnerships like the Talent Finance Initiative connect to existing public investments?
There are a number of ways in which private sector investments can be connected with public programs such as on-the-job training (OJT) and other employment and training-supported initiatives. The Talent Finance white paper includes a few examples of public-private partnership and co-investment including the following:
ON-THE-JOB TRAINING REIMAGINED: On-the-job training is a popular program offered by federal and state governments. It functions as a wage subsidy for new hires or for workers who are being provided advanced skills for new positions. For a limited period of time, the employer will be reimbursed a portion of the worker's wages. Governments could reimagine how OJT programs and investments are made through greater alignment with employers and the private sector. For example, OJT can be an incentive for industry-led and recognized earn and learn programs (for example, apprenticeships) or used to offset training wages in a recognized talent supply chain using talent pipeline management (TPM) practices as well as training wages for individuals in staffing agencies. An OJT can even be used as an offset to ISA holders resulting in reduced payments.
KANSAS AND WORKFORCE AID: The Kansas Department of Commerce and Kansas Board of Regents are reinventing how state customized training programs work. As an early TPM partner, Kansas was able to improve its training initiatives by having employers themselves manage the program design and procurement. The employers choose the training provider, which provides a number of advantages. These include helping to ensure that the employers are critical drivers of decision-making, that the programs are aligned with employer needs, and that employers are working with a preferred training provider to deliver services. Though currently limited to eligible colleges, the program could be expanded to maximize employers' choice regarding what entities they work with to procure workforce talent, including unaccredited community-based providers that can reach targeted opportunity populations (for example, younger people or those seeking to re-enter the workforce).
How is employer return on investment (ROI) measured in these types of partnerships?
In terms of investing in talent and workforce development, employers already have a lot of "skin in the game——an amount estimated at $28 billion for tuition reimbursement, $177 billion for formal education and training, and more than $400 billion for informal training, according to a 2015 report.i The aim is for new public-private partnerships to deliver ROI in a number of ways, including through improved quality of hires, increased retention and career advancement, reduction in hiring and onboarding costs, and enhancement in diversity, equity, and inclusion. As more employers buy in, the more commonplace these partnerships will become, and therefore the higher the probability that tax codes would change to further encourage involvement and increase ROI.
Ultimately, the need to develop talent will dramatically increase in importance as the economy evolves. The more these kinds of innovative partnerships are launched, the more their value to workforce development will become recognized.
How can workforce systems connect with small and midsize businesses that are employing millions but may not have the resources to do some of this work internally?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce developed the Talent Pipeline Management network to help smaller companies meet their critical job needs. The initiative is a shared effort among employers, who contribute workforce data and pay dues to build talent pipelines in high-demand careers. The chamber works with stakeholders including economic development associations or sector associations that may include small-to-midsize businesses, allowing them to leverage the power of collective action, which includes expanding their human resource and talent sourcing capabilities. The chamber found that one small company may have two positions open one year, none the next year, and potentially some the following year. Yet when 30 to 40 of these businesses were combined as part of a TPM framework, the demand curve began to smooth out across each of them, so that when one business needed resources, it was not forced to start from scratch and rebuild the talent pipeline.
How do/can innovative intermediary groups like chambers of commerce collaborate with workforce development boards?
The U.S. Chamber has employer collaboratives that work with local workforce boards in sector partnerships. The workforce boards benefit from receiving access to the data that those collaboratives produce, which includes aggregated, primary source workforce information that addresses questions such as the following:
- What are the critical jobs?
- How many jobs do employers need to fill?
- When do employers need these jobs?
- What business assumptions were made to derive the number of needed jobs?
- What are the skill and competency requirements for these jobs? (Refined and improved to remove bias and barriers)
- Where have employers traditionally sourced talent from?
- Where could they source from?
- What are the employer's current capture and leakage rates?
- Who will be the employer's preferred providers in the future?
This kind of data, which workforce development boards frequently don't have, is very important. Having access to this granular information can transform how workforce boards underwrite investments in the programs employers work with, allowing the boards to take more meaningful action and achieve better outcomes.
New Profit sees workforce boards as an important partner. The organization recently sent a request seeking applications from boards to partner with it on new innovations targeted toward "occupations of the future,— referring to jobs that are not expected to be automated in the next five years and that do not require an associate's degree. The program is targeted to people with the most barriers to employment.
Initiatives for targeted populations
Are there talent development initiatives geared toward veterans with significant barriers to employment?
One of the career impact bonds that was launched from Social Finance's UP Fund nurtured a veteran-focused program that has since become a real company, Acuitus. It was in development for more than 10 years and has had significant impact. The program uses a digital tutor to engage veterans in a full-time, five-month course training them as IT administrators. The program's job placement and sustained compensation results are strong, with graduates earning north of $70,000 and $80,000 with pathways for advancement.
What strategies have been deployed or developed to address the digital divide and access to broadband through these investments in talent development?
New Profit is giving out stipends and grants for technology as well as laptops, and recognizes that other innovators and entrepreneurs offering bootcamps are also providing laptops. A Kapor Capital initiative to donate computers to college students is another example of how investors are trying to support the access to technology needed for online learning.
The Chamber is talking about these issues as they relate to remote work and the pandemic, recognizing that the digital divide is a significant constraint on the country's ability to achieve economic recovery and get more people back to work. There are a number of conversations happening in Washington, D.C., about how to tackle the digital divide challenge, and while the tone and tenor around the conversation has changed, it remains to be seen whether tangible investment will result. The Chamber is pushing for it.
i Employer investment in talent development can be found in the following: Carnevale, Anthony P., Jeff Strohl, and Artem Gulish. "College Is Just the Beginning: Employers' Role in the $1.1 Trillion Postsecondary Education and Training System." Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce, 2015. https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/college-is-just-the-beginning/
Stuart Andreason: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Stuart Andreason at the Atlanta Fed Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity. I want to thank you all for taking time out of what has been an incredibly busy fall and an incredibly busy webinar season. We're really excited today to talk with a number of people. And I want to thank them for joining us on another session of the Ask Us Anything series that we've been hosting and sponsoring.
Today, we are lucky to have a number of leaders, both in the social investment and workforce development world, with us today. We've got Tracy Palandjian, who is the founder of Social Finance. She is in the Boston area and has worked to pioneer outcomes-based finance models and social impact bonds in the United States.
We've got Jason Tyszko at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, who has led just a number of innovations in public-private partnerships and talent pipeline management, and Dr. Angela Jackson at New Profit, who is leading the relatively newly announced grand challenge on the future of work. We're going to get to talk about all of that.
Our goal today is to talk about how new financial innovations can address and support improving opportunity, access, and quality in workforce development systems. And so, we're going to start off, just I'm going to turn the time over to our colleagues.
So, we're going to have a conversation. We'll start with Tracy, who's going to talk about the history of work that they've done in creating new innovative finance systems. We'll turn to Jason, and then, to Angela. So Tracy, thanks for joining us today.
Tracy Palandjian: Well, thank you for having us, Stu. I'm a huge fan of Ask Us Anything. In fact, I think I've gone to maybe half of them. And indeed, it is a busy webinar season. And this particular series, I've just loved being a part of. So, thank you for having Jason, Angela, and me as your speakers today. So, Social Finance, who are we?
We are an impact investing nonprofit founded 10 years ago. You may have heard about our work, building the social impact bond field. And in addition to SIBs, which is what we call social impact bonds, we also develop other outcome-based models to finance social change, to achieve measurable, and that's a key word, measurable, impact.
Over the last couple of years, our team has really been focused on addressing the twin challenges of declining economic mobility and the growing skills gap in our country, and built this new tool in our toolkit. And we've dubbed it the career impact bond. And we'll go into the details of that.
But the overarching goal is to think about a new model to finance worker retraining and upskilling, so that folks who are unemployed or underemployed can get good jobs with potential for upward mobility. And I think, Stu, Jason, and Angela would agree that the current incentives in talent and education finance need to be rewired and the risks need to be reallocated.
So, what is declining economic mobility, right? I think we're all familiar with the statistics. I remember coming to this country as a foreign student in the '80s, and the idea of the American dream was so tied to upward mobility, if you will. That was just so core to this country's values.
And if you look around right now, whether it's economic mobility, income inequality, wealth inequality, by all measures, everything has just gotten much worse, and these statistics have, unfortunately, reached new heights. So, we ask the questions, how did we get here, right?
We're not going to get into the structural economic factors like globalization or technology and automation or the structure of the new network economy. But closer to the topic at hand, I also think that it has a lot to do with our traditional education and training system, which is mostly in the postsecondary institution realm.
And while it has worked really well in the 20th century, it begs the question whether they are still fit for the times. I think we all know that back in the second half of the 20th century, a bachelor's degree is really a ticket to the middle class. And this simply isn't the case anymore.
And there's increasingly a disconnect between what you learn in school and what you need on the job. I always think about the statistic. And I think it was Jane Oates that mentioned this, that more than half of the job titles right now, the job titles that you see in LinkedIn and other places, are new titles since 2008. Think about the iPhone, it was launched in 2008.
And Apple has put out, I don't know, 20 different versions of the iPhone, but our college curriculums have hardly changed. So, when college was a slingshot to the middle class, of course, a loan made sense, right? We would borrow money to pay for tuition. We would take time off from paying work to pursue a journey, which seemed like making a good investment and the sound investment in our own futures.
And that proposition is, I think, we all appreciate being massively challenged. And then, there's the role of government and the role of employers. The federal government, and Stu, you have amazing statistics on this. The federal government has been steadily disinvesting in the workforce training programs since the '80s.
I think we owe another equivalent dollars have fallen by I think north of 80 percent in real terms. And then, equally, companies have also moved—the trend has been moving away from succession and growth planning strategies focused on internal promotion to approaches much more centered on external recruitment. So, what does this all mean?
It's just a tough situation for everyone, especially for students and workers who are taking on the full financial burden of education and training. All the risk is asymmetrically placed on the worker. And no wonder we have a $1.6 trillion college debt crisis held by 45 million Americans, often people graduating or sometimes they don't graduate, or without employable skills.
And these are even more challenging circumstances for people who face cultural, financial, and racial barriers. And of course, businesses are hurting. I think there're still north of six million unfilled job openings out there. So, still, this massive skills gap and the pandemic and the recession that's coming with it, is just making things much worse.
But I don't think it's all bad news. There are some points of light out there. The great community colleges that are responding to the labor market and producing curriculum with industry recognized, relevant skills, their high performing sector base, more traditional workforce, nonprofits, achieving extraordinary results for students.
And then, you have this emerging class of coding bootcamps. Ten years ago, no one heard of a coding bootcamp, which are helping people get important IT skills for in-demand careers in pretty short timeframes. But money and finance is still a problem, whether it's tuition, and even if you go to Title IV institutions, to community college, and you get some programs, you still need help for wraparound supports, for living stipends.
And it's against this backdrop that our team developed this financing model called the career impact bond. At the simplest—and we'll have more of a chance to dig into the details–the career impact bond is an impact first, income-share agreement that basically places the worker front and center, so that the worker can embark on new pathways to economic mobility with no downside risk.
Every career impact bond begins with where the jobs are. What are the relevant sectors that are growing and in-demand—sectors like IT, healthcare, skilled trades. Of the 6.5 million job openings in the market, I think half of them are middle-skills jobs. These are good jobs that require training beyond a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree.
And they're just extraordinary opportunities for advancement. And I think there was a recent Strada poll that said that almost 70 percent of adults looking to enroll in classes after high school prefer credentialing programs over two- to four-year degrees.
So, with that job landscape and labor market analytics, we then go out and identify the best training programs with a track record of outcomes for students. Persistence, graduation, job placement, whether these programs are cost-effective, organizations that are well run, that are financially stable, and importantly, have the capacity to scale and to serve more people and with strong linkages with employers.
We've developed a really fantastic pipeline of high-quality providers expanding coding bootcamps, traditional workforce, nonprofits, and some community college partners. Then, last year, we raised an impact investment fund. We've dubbed it the UP Fund, U-P, unlocking potential upskilling—you can play with the words—in which impact investors would cover a portion of the tuition cost, and also fund the important wraparound support services, so that students can enroll for free and get the support they need to succeed in the program, and then graduate with skills that translate to a proper career.
Those who get jobs and keep the jobs importantly with salaries over a particular income threshold would repay the program costs as a fixed percentage of their future incomes over a fixed period of time, with no extensions and subjects to caps. And those who don't, they don't owe anything. And all the terms are guided by a student bill of rights.
And we can get into that. So, we launched the UP Fund last fall as a $40 [million] to $50 million fund, which will support eight to 12 career impact bonds across different sectors, across geographies. And we just launched our third program. The first one was with a deep and enduring partnership with General Assembly, the for-profit coding bootcamp, which is known for their courses in software engineering, user design, among others.
We started enrolling students in January and to date have enrolled several hundred students. And when we talk about the equity agenda, this statistic is going to blow you away. Of the normal student body at General Assembly, there are 6 percent Black and 6 percent Latinx. And of the several hundred who have enrolled in the career impact bond program, 38 percent are Black and 14 percent Latinx.
So, the eligibility criteria have made a big difference to unlocking access. The second deal is with another IT provider focused on network administration skills and focused on the veteran population. And then, the third one is focused on diesel mechanic training with, and importantly, an employer-payer component.
So, essentially, employers who hire these graduates would agree to cover their ISA [income share agreement] payments for every month that the worker remains employed with the company. So, this is the investment fund, but we're also putting the career impact bond to work in another way, which is to build it as a public policy tool. We're working with several states, and it's still early days in the pilot phase, but to launch an evergreen fund structure.
So, the idea is instead of putting investment dollars into the fund, it would be anchored with public dollars and philanthropic dollars such as the future worker payments from successful graduates would be recycled to support future workers. So, that's what we're up to. And back to you, Stu. Or maybe not to Stu?
Andreason: No, my apologies. I want to turn it over just immediately to Jason, who's going to talk about some of the work that they have done at the chamber, both in setting up innovative programs for workforce development, but how they've ended up thinking about finance and innovations in finance that pull together a lot of these public partnerships as well. So, thanks so much.
Jason Tyszko: Thank you, Stuart. I really appreciate the opportunity to join this series, and especially to speak with such fantastic panelists. We're really looking forward to getting into the discussion. I want to start by giving a little bit of background on our organization and what we've been up to over the last eight years, and how we found ourselves now in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and talking all things finance and investment.
So, just a little bit about or organization. There's the U.S. Chamber, which is the membership organization. It's the world's largest business and lobbying organization headquartered in Washington, DC. We represent over 1,500 state and local chambers of commerce, our memberships of over 400,000 firms, and collectively across the chamber family, we represent over three million businesses with our bread and butter being small to midsize enterprise.
We also have our chamber foundation, which is our 501(c)(3) nonprofit co-located at the U.S. Chamber, and I'm actually working [with] both organizations. But the portfolio I'm sharing with you today is actually being led by our nonprofit arm. So, this work is primarily driven by philanthropic investment and sponsorship and is really trying to activate new levels of employer leadership to achieve public good.
And it all started with what we call our talent pipeline management program, TPM. But this was our approach eight years ago to say, "Instead of complaining about the skills gap, let's do something about it. And let's do something with the tools of action we control." So, we really try to flip the script on workforce development, say, "Now's the time for employers to lead in new and inventive ways, and to do so by leveraging their own best practices."
So, we looked at supply chain management as a strategy instead of tools that could reimagine how we engage preferred providers and a talent supply chain. It doesn't mean schools or factories or people or widgets. It just means employers know their role and responsibilities in managing information and partnerships.
Creating shared value, competitiveness and accountability, how to apply a set of sophisticated tools, strategies and practices to improve shared competitiveness. But they haven't done it when it comes to a lot of human capital challenges, and now's the time to do it.
So, we really want to move employers from advisers to end customers of a talent supply chain, but to do so at scale, not in one-offs or in a boutique way, but to build an infrastructure that allow us to scale this kind of change management on the demand side. I'm happy to say after we kicked that project off of the white paper, we quickly moved to seven pilots, which then formed our TPM Academy.
And we've now trained over 400 organizations since then, and growing, where we now have hundreds of active employer collaboratives, working with thousands of companies in 33 states and Canada, all working to build high performing talent supply chains. Not only for newly trained and credential workers, but also to build internal pathways for upskilling and career advancement.
So, as we've been getting the work done on building capacity and chambers and other business associations to provide talent supply chains as a service, what we then started working on is the technology problem. So, we're solving the human problem.
And we realized that now that we have these supply chains working, we need to improve signaling, because we all rely on a set of technology tools as part of our workflow process, whether it's on the education side or the HR side. And a lot of those technologies need to be in a certain place for us to be able to communicate more effectively with each other.
To share data, to ingest data, to export data, including on jobs and when jobs change, and what's the composition of the skills, credentials, and competencies. Employers are not pretty good at signaling that. But with new data standards and tools, we can actually signal an improved wage, what are the in-demand job, skills, and credentials, and do it in a much more timely way.
So, we're working on that. But we also need to be able to ingest learner data. So, we stood up our job data exchange to work on the job signaling side and our T3 Innovation Network, which is trying to actually accelerate the digital transformation of the talent marketplace, all with an eye towards being able to document all learning regardless of wherever it occurs, to render it as data.
And to be able to exchange that across any system, whether it's in a student information system, a learning management system, an HR system, so on and so forth. And then, make competencies and skills and new currency. Not just tracking the learning, but the outcomes associated with that learning. So, we know more about where someone learns, and with what outcomes.
We think this is going to be a game changer once this data infrastructure is fully robust, because we will know more about where someone learns and with what outcomes than ever before in our history. So, now that we have a growing employer movement, we're building capacity and infrastructure to scale employer engagement and leadership, and now trying to outfit them with better tools.
So, employers, too, can become the new educators and registrars and share outcomes data that is held by the private sector in more granular and consistent standardized ways, we now want to activate the third rail. So, it took us about eight years to get here.
But we were excited to launch our latest effort just a few weeks ago, done in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, WorkingNation and the Greater Houston Partnership in something we call talent finance. We released a white paper the 21st of September, and we just concluded as of yesterday a five-part virtual series where we began exploring the themes and recommendations in that report.
And what I really want to impress upon you is because we have employer collective action like never before, coupled with an emerging data infrastructure that will tell us more about outcomes than ever before, we think we could have a fundamentally different conversation about how we finance and invest in talent.
We think that's really important because signaling and partnerships, what we found, is not enough. It's important. It's great. It's making a difference. But if we want scale and transformation, we have to get at the incentives. If you change the incentives, you change the talent marketplace.
We have all the building blocks in place, but now's the time to take on the big challenge, arguably the most important one, which is if we're able to reimagine how we deploy incentives with alternative financing strategies, we think this could be a game changer, particularly for a lot of populations who need access to these new tools, mainly those opportunity populations that Tracy and others have been referencing.
So, I agree with Tracy, it’s a quote I like to use a lot. We can't use the talent finance system built for the past, we need one fit for our time. We need a new playbook. And what we think on the chamber side and with our partners is going to be public-private. It's not just public, it's not just private, but it's public-private.
But what we need to do in this new era is more clearly identify what's the work to be done on the private sector side, and how can employers act differently in terms of activating their investments, becoming better purchasers or procurers of talent finance products and services, being able to actually back their own products and services to underwrite their own talent pipeline needs.
Think of it, employers provide tens of billions of dollars in tuition reimbursement every year, hundreds of billion dollars in investment. If we just impacted 5 (percent) to 10 percent of the money they're already spending today and deployed it through new talent finance innovations, it could be a game changer. We, of course, aspire to do much more than that.
But we think employers can lead by investing differently, both in upside opportunities, where there's education, training and credentialing opportunities, but also in downside risk management, which includes how you manage risks associated with employment and income. We think it's both and when we talk about talent finance--upside opportunity, downside risk management, because the risks of the new economy are real. And people need to be managing skill obsolescence, job dislocation, reduction in earnings. There's a whole new toolkit that needs to be there, too. We need to reinvent the safety net, we need to modernize our UI systems, but we need a public-private system. Anyway, we think that employers can behave differently.
And that's where we come in, because we can educate and train them and help facilitate that change management. But we need the public sector to align itself, so it's not public versus private, but where private sector leads public sector can incent, align, and braid. And then, what we're also eager to do is explore the enabling infrastructure that's going to support it.
Because we could talk about finance innovations all day and explore wide variety of alternatives. But if we need a system fit for our time, it needs an infrastructure fit for our time as well. And we're trying to identify what are the changes that need to happen in HR accounting practices and how we identify, measure, assess, and score risk in the human capital space, how we manage quality assurance signals, and how we manage a data infrastructure that's going to give us the right kinds of data to do better underwriting.
So, we want to have through talent finance, an all hands-on deck approach, build a movement, to say, "Let's get more pilots and demonstrations and more learning about new public-private approaches for how to underwrite talent pipelines and to better support downside risk management.
And then, let's also work on shoring up the infrastructure that's going to allow those innovations to truly scale, not only in this country, but globally." So, that's what we're all about and how we're positioning ourselves. We're not starting from scratch. I just came from another meeting with our talent supply chain networks.
And we already have employer collaboratives across the country, raising their hand saying, "If you're going to do this, do it here. We're already doing the hard work. Now, we need the finance solution to plug in. We're ready to go." So, we're excited to bring this portfolio to the finance community because we think it does give us a new infrastructure that wasn't there before.
And we're hoping to now move into the next phase of work with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, but with so many more partners, to really explore how we can begin to seed and scale innovations all across the country over the next couple of years. So, I'll leave it at that. And I look forward to engaging with the questions.
Andreason: Thank you. And I'll just mention to everyone that we're getting a couple of great questions. Please go ahead and use the Q&A. We'll get to your questions. If we can't answer them live, we will facilitate getting your answers to those questions. And now I get to turn it over to Dr. Angela Jackson. Angela.
Angela Jackson: Perfect. Thank you, Stuart and Tracy and Jason. I just can't think of a more important conversation to have than one around financial innovations. As we all know, we are experiencing historic unemployment numbers. And as I do my work at New Profit, where I lead a $15 million future work fund, we also work with frontline advisors and we have a frontline advisory board.
And what I'm hearing from people who've been displaced by COVID is that they're wondering real time, how they can afford to upskill and reskill. You have people who have worked for 10 or 15 years in the travel and hospitality industry, and their job is now gone. So, what will they do next? What are their adjacent skills? And this work is pretty personal to me.
If you've not heard me speak before, I talk a lot about my grandparents. I was raised by them and grew up in the '90s. And my story resonates a lot with what Tracy said around the American dream. My grandfather worked at a local Chrysler factory where he was a line worker. And with his job, he was able to raise a family, put me through undergrad and graduate school.
And what we know today is that that story really isn't true anymore. Now, as I was looking at the medium wage, I was talking to one of my grandfather's friends, and he told me back in 1968, they made about $5 or $6 an hour. In 1998, when they retired, it was closer to 19. If you look at that real-time wages in 2020, that $5 an hour would be approximately $19 an hour.
And we know that factory workers aren't making that. And we know that a lot of workers are out there experiencing low wages, and are thinking real time, how can they afford to upskill. And that's part of the reason that at New Profit, we launched the Future of Work Grand Challenge.
And really what that was targeted at is our most vulnerable workers, workers who have been impacted by COVID, thinking of ways that we could help them rapidly reskill with less time and less money. So, our partners in this challenge are MIT Solve and XPRIZE. And similar to what Jason said, we realized with a problem this big, it's not going to be one entity that solves it.
We really are going to need public and private partnerships. We are going to need unprecedented ways of sharing information and collaboration. And so, with the Future of Work Grand Challenge, we thought, "How could we incentivize that?" So, we launched this $6 million challenge to incentivize first innovators to come up with rapid accelerated learning solutions targeted at people with the most barriers.
So, if you look at reports coming from Brookings and from McKinsey, we know that people whose jobs are most at risk to automation, who've already not been impacted, are along the lines of their socioeconomic backgrounds and their race. We also know that there were those people without a four-year degree.
So, when we thought about our challenge and being a philanthropy and an impact investor, we wanted innovators to target workers with the most barriers to employment. So, we're asking innovators to come up with accelerated learning programs and wraparound supports, targeting these workers and help to place them in jobs in 90 days with a living wage.
We are also partnering on that ecosystem front with workforce boards and job centers in five communities. Because we also know that the digital divide is huge. And I don't know about people who are listening here, but with me working remotely, my partner and my daughter homeschooling, we know that broadband access is critical if you didn't know it before.
And we know that many of the workers that we care about are accessing the internet through their mobile phones. So, if they're thinking about doing a coding bootcamp or doing accelerated learning programs, they're going to need really viable Wi-Fi. And they're also going to need laptop devices. And so, that's why we're working with workforce boards and job centers because we want to reach people where they are with these solutions.
And what we're excited about in bringing together these innovators and workforce boards, we see that as a sustainable model. One that once we are past and our economic and philanthropy dollars are gone, that we will still build a relationship between these innovators, the boards, the job centers, so that workers who need these solutions the most actually have an opportunity to access them.
So, we are thrilled about this partnership. And I will share some of the partners. We're a partner with Goodwill Industries and Accenture to stand up our worker advisory board. We have workers who are representative of the United States who have been impacted by COVID, who are helping us to design. They help to design this challenge.
And they're also helping us to judge the solutions that we'll select, that will have the prize purse. The second thing that we're doing in terms of equity is we're ensuring that diverse innovators have an opportunity to apply. So, we're going to make sure that at least 40 percent of our pool are what we call proximate entrepreneurs.
These are entrepreneurs who've experienced poverty, who've experienced joblessness, who had to depend on a workforce board to help us innovate and come up with solutions. The last piece of it is we are going to take what we learned working with our partners’ jobs for the future and create workforce board playbooks that we're going to offer to workforce boards nationwide.
Because again, it's not us learning in a vacuum, we want to share what we've learned about what does it take to integrate the newest and latest technology into job centers and spread that knowledge nationwide. Lastly, I'd say, we would not be able to do this without our philanthropic partners. So, we're partnering with Strada Education Network, Walmart.org, Annie E. Casey, the Joyce Foundation, Lumina Ventures, and we have other partners.
What they see in this is something that we deeply believe in as New Profit. We need coinvestors in this space. We need more dollars. There's more need than there are dollars out there. So, we're going to need, again, this unprecedented collaboration to make sure that we're actually having the impact that we need. So, I will say this to everyone who is listening on the line here, I would encourage everyone to Google Future of Work Grand Challenge and New Profit.
You will see ways to enter both challenges. We are eager to give away these funds and we're eager to learn about the newest innovations on, again, how can we upskill people? And how can we do it at less cost and less time? And for that, this conversation around financial innovations is critically important.
Palandjian: Thanks, Angela. And I think Jason mentioned, upside potential and downside risk. And right now, if you look at the risk equation for how we finance education and training, all the risk is borne by the individual, whether he or she experiences upside or is left to fall. Hence, the college debt or even taking out loans is no longer a system that's working for all.
And how do you think about spreading the risks, realigning incentives among the stakeholders, and who are the stakeholders? Government, employers, the training providers or schools themselves, and the individuals. And what the career impact bond and even the income share agreement model is trying to do is to remove that downside risk away from the worker.
And how the career impact bond [is]different is because we're actually not just a consumer finance option, if you will, but rather a tool for upward mobility. So, we take our eligibility criteria very seriously. So, the tool is specifically designed for people who face barriers to education, people who can't take out loans because they have either no credit or very poor credit. People who've interacted with the criminal justice system. People with immigration status challenges. People who are just generally what Jason mentioned, the opportunity population. So, in addition to funding tuition, because you're focusing on this population, you also need to address the barriers that prevent these people from achieving success.
So, part of the career impact bond model is not only financing the education, training component, which is the tuition, but importantly, all the wraparound support services. An emergency aid fund and the General Assembly deal to meet transportation, childcare, rent—all the stuff of life that gets in the way.
Extended caseworker support, financial literacy, and then, actually, an upcoming deal is also going to incorporate a living stipend. So, as you appreciate, it really is a holistic tool for impact. And we want to make sure that people get up that economic escalator and stay up there.
Jackson: Tracy, just one follow-up question for you. You've mentioned that when people are thinking about paying back these bonds, there's a fixed amount. Can you say a bit more about that and the time horizon? And what that looks like, does it vary?
Palandjian: It varies by occupation, training provider, and obviously, the ultimate job. Every single career impact bond has basically four levers that we can play with. One is the income threshold. So, unless you earn X, you don't have to pay at all. The second is the percentage of your gross wages that you would pay. The third is the duration of that obligation.
And when we say, say three years or four years, we mean three years or four years. There is no extension, hidden period in there. And then, the fourth level is the overall cap. We define the cap as a multiple on the tuition. So, some projects would be financed at 1.3X the tuition or 1.4X the tuition, and the wraparound supports are not part of that cap.
It's just something that we are committed to and it's usually grant funded out of the investment fund. So, those are the four levers. And depending on the cost-effectiveness of the program, it could be anywhere between a $40,000-income threshold or a $50,000-income threshold. The percent share could be anywhere between 5 and 10 percent. The duration could be anything between three and six years. And it's playing with these levers and making sure, importantly, according to the student bill of rights that these are first and foremost, student centric and worker centric. Two last things: In order to make this happen, the training provider has massive skin in the game.
So, we don't advance the full tuition to the training provider upfront. We only advance a portion for every person that they enroll that meet our eligibility criteria. They only get made whole, the training provider, if the person sustains that job over time. So, in investment parlance, the training provider is last in the waterfall.
So, as students make their repayments, if they're gainfully employed, the investors get their principal and an interest, and then, the provider gets made whole at the end, so that they're completely incentivized to deliver on behalf of the student. And the final point is that these are very student-centric terms if you compare the more commercial ISA terms out in the marketplace.
And we can only do that because we're working with impact first investors in the investment fund and working with forward-looking public officials in the Evergreen Pay It Forward fund.
Jackson: Thank you. And Jason, you've made a point that employers need to get in the game in this, too. So, Annie E. Casey and the Joyce Foundation came out with a report about a year ago that said the majority of employers, they spend 80 percent of their professional development dollars on middle-skill and higher-skilled workers. What do you think needs to change for employers to begin looking at entry level employees? Excuse me.
Tyszko: Yeah. I think that it's fundamentally a change management argument. And that the infrastructure we're trying to build is to facilitate that. So, we're actually better educating and supporting employers to build better talent management practices and talent development portfolios, where they can actually steer more resources intentionally to lower-skilled frontline workers and build very intentional career advancement opportunities for them.
We already see a lot of that happening. I think there's a lot of myths out there where people believe employers won't invest in people because they may leave. And we see employers invest in people saying, "We want you to leave. We want to give you a pathway out because we want you to have a good experience with our company. We're under no illusion that you're going to necessarily stay here for the entirety of your career. We want you to move up. And we want you remember that, because we want that brand relationship with you and that loyalty, and we want referrals from you as well for other people.” So, I think employers are getting much more sophisticated about this.
They are revisiting their talent sourcing and management practices. But we need to proliferate best practices, which is where an organization like ours comes in. And I think they need new tools. Much like we had to give them talent supply chain tools, now we need to give them talent finance tools. In your previous question, you mentioned, what are the innovations?
And I see them as threefold. But we need to get to work because they're not just going to happen on their own. And they're certainly not just going to happen on their own for the type of workers that your question was referencing. But I think we need to move on all three tracks. We need product innovation, product innovations saying, we don't need to a classic or traditional tuition aid programs and loan programs.
What we need is new equity-based programs like ISAs and career impact bonds, more outcome-based financing approaches. For incumbent workers, don't require them to have to front a bunch of cash to go get a program and then get reimbursed via tuition reimbursement and has to go to an accredited college or university.
How about we give them a lifelong learning account, where an employer can make direct investments in it, where they get special tax treatment, encouraging the worker to put skin in the game, and then, give them more access to more training programs that are shorter term, credentialing focused, and will allow them to actually start stacking credentials and getting career mobility.
Give them a better tool to not only incent more investment, but give more choice, empower workers to pursue more upskilling opportunities. So, I think some of it is we got to change the strategy and mindset, or the other part, we got to change the tools. And the product innovation side is going to be really important.
You have a whole bunch of companies now looking at outplacement assistance as a benefit. So, it's not the, what are we going to do with our workers when it's too late to do anything as much as we already have in place risk mitigation tools, that whether you have severance on your own or there's an economic event, we have procedures in place and partnerships in place that could help put you in the next opportunity.
We can even think about on the tax policy side. Why aren't we giving more preferential tax treatment to things like lifelong learning accounts and incentivizing their adoption and use from companies? And why aren't we using dollars like TIF [Tax Increment Finance] Districts differently. If we could use TIF Districts for neighborhood beautification projects, why don't use a portion of them to actually build a workforce that's within that TIF?
So, I think we need product innovation, but then we got to go further. So, product innovation, and then, what we need is innovation around collective action. And this is where I'm hearing the most feedback from Tracy and from others where, it's hard when you're trying to push any of these product innovations on a company by company by company basis.
It's hard to get enough deal flow in a volume out of profitability. But if we are able to aggregate demand through initiatives like TPM and we're able to now put forward the idea that employers could come together and jointly procure a talent finance solution. And it doesn't have to be a one-off.
We see that as a potential game changer, where you could have networks of companies bringing in things like career impact bonds or outcome-based financing, and then, creating the mechanism for employers to put more skin in the game, which is a third innovation. So, product innovation, collective action innovation, and then, combining public and private approaches.
So, imagine if an employer community, let's say, in Louisville, Kentucky, got together, whether it was a healthcare collaborative or another one, got together with Tracy and said, "Look, we want to pool our talent development dollars together in this area. We want to make sure our chambers is empowered to manage this fund, but we want to bring in philanthropic dollars.
And maybe if we're targeting alternative providers that could reach the opportunity populations we seek to reach, government could come in as a joint investor, whether guaranteeing a product or being a participant in it, which could also buy down an interest rate if that's what we're dealing with, or potentially, buy down or help subsidize the repayment rate for those individuals."
But now we're mixing different funding streams using a new product and doing it with 20 companies as opposed to one company. And we think that is where you get that third innovation. So, product innovation combined with employer collective action, combined with mixing of public-private solutions is where we think the sweet spot is in talent finance.
So, that's what we want to work toward. And I got to believe we put forward nine guiding principles for this new approach to talent finance. So, we are laser focused on creating a more equitable talent marketplace by changing the incentives and changing that marketplace. So, we need to make sure we are accountable, and saying, "If we're building these new talent finance solutions, who's first in and will benefit the most? We can't make sure that those who have, have more. We want to make sure those who've had the least agency and access has more empowerment and access." And that will be a function of design, but also human and political will. And we got to bring both together.
Jackson: Tracy, I see you want to get in there. And I'm hoping I will get your comment.
Palandjian: I'm just going to say and to let you know that everyone, I think Stu sent the link, everyone needs to read this report. It's extraordinary. I know it's 40-plus pages. But it's incredibly pragmatic. And it basically expands on the three levels that Jason mentioned. And I really think it's a refreshing look to the solutions that we can work on together.
Jackson: So, just staying with you, Tracy, what will it take? Because we've been talking about this, us and workforce for years, and we've been talking about collaboration, right? I can't think of a time more than now where that's needed, what is going to be the impetus do you think for this to really catch hold?
Palandjian: It's a great question. And I'd love to hear your insights, too, Angela, and Jason, and Stu. What I think is going to be a powerful mechanism to make sure that collaboration has teeth, is through the parsing out of risks and using capital to realign incentives.
So, when a training provider, when I mentioned earlier, that they actually have skin in the game. Like right now, I have three daughters who are going to college, whether or not they come out with a great education or not, a great education is completely output based. There's zero outcomes, right? How do you actually have schools and training programs actually have skin in the game?
Now every single provider in the career impact bond pipeline are basically voting with their feet. I believe in my own results so much that I'm willing to defer half of my tuition payments to the back end after the person has been sustained success in their career, right? That's powerful. Government dollars, government could have skin in the game in the Kentucky example that Jason mentioned.
Instead of spending workforce dollars on an annual basis, imagine pooling funds to think about matching employer contributions to the fund, even using tax credit vehicles to even add more incentives to the pool, to think about a much more sustainable, accountable way to spend workforce dollars.
So, how do we use money and capital to realign incentives and reallocate risks, so that these... we know that the solution needs to be deeply collaborative. But often, it's just talking about it. And then, this amazing person started this initiative, but he or she moves on, and then, there's no one to remember what actually was the vision behind this collaborative, right?
But if you have things that are just built in, that's accountable over time over the life of these enduring partnerships through smart uses of money, I'm hopeful that we can have more teeth.
Jackson: And how are we thinking about equity at the center of these? I have to wonder about how does one find out about a career impact bond. And so, if you're thinking about the people who might need this financing the most, how are we thinking about them getting these opportunities in front of them?
Palandjian: It's a great question. We need to do a better job to get the word out there. But partnering with Jason, with you, Angela, with Stu, and the broad coalition out there is a big part of it. We're not a B2C [business-to-consumer] company. We're very much a B2B nonprofit. And having a lot more resonance to the people on the ground is something that we need to work on.
For what it's worth, we're actually partnering with SkillUp. This is part of the guild coalition to think about how to use startup scholarship grant dollars to jumpstart someone's rescaling journey. So, we're partnering with Walmart, the SkillUp Coalition and others to think about a scholarship grant as a first step for longer upskilling and reskilling journey using career impact bonds, and SkillUp has just been fantastic in making sure that the word hits the street.
Jackson: Excellent. And so, I'm just looking. We have a couple of questions that have just come in. And, Jason, I think this would be a good one for you. How can we connect small and midsize businesses that are employing millions of people in the U.S., but they just don't have the HR capacity to do a lot of the coordination?
Tyszko: Yeah. So, that was one of the reasons why we created our talent supply chain system. We felt that yes, we can work to embed these practices and tools in a large company and do that one large company to the next. But unless you're able to embed this set of practices and facilitate this change management with small to midsize companies, you're not going to get to the largest job creators.
So, our logic model in this was we need to build capacity, where small to midsize companies naturally congregate, pay dues and expect value, which is why we work with our chamber federation, but also with other economic development associations or sector associations that they may be part of.
And in that case, they're leveraging the power of collective action, which includes significantly expanding their HR capabilities and talent sourcing capabilities. And what we found is throughout our talent supply chain networks, when you pop together a lot of small to midsize companies and one of our collaboratives, a small company might have two positions open one year, maybe none the next, maybe they'll have some the following year.
But if you pop 20 to 30 to 40 of them together, you're smoothing out demand across all of them. And then, when somebody needs something, they don't have to start from scratch and rebuild everything. There's an infrastructure in place and they know as long as I'm contributing my part, my data as well as my dues, my pipeline is going to be here when I need it.
So, that's what we learned, is we don't look like other countries here in the U.S. We do not have a centralized infrastructure to engage the business community in any meaningful scale. And that's OK. And we're in an unstructured labor market. But we think if you go where they naturally are already. When I came on board with the chamber, the thing is, "We need to move beyond chambers being just conveners of conversations about the skills gap or whatever it may be.
We need to be a network of action.” And what we realized was the missing piece, is we did not know how to consistently implement the playbook that gets good return on investment for the employer and customer as well as others. And we what we found is if you train them, you give them the skills, you give them a professional network, they will own this work, and they will deliver a service, and they will create shared value, and they will share in the risk.
And what I was told when I first got started in this business was employers will not get together and work with our competitors, they will not engage in collective action, they will not share proprietary data. And we need to do that for them, which means intermediaries have to be stood up to manage this on behalf and we have this proliferation of advisory boards, where it's hard enough to engage employers, extremely difficult to engage in its scale, and good luck keeping up.
And what we're trying to do is flip the script on that. And I know these initiatives have been running eight years, it still feels young. But I think we've proven all those things wrong. We need to empower and build capacity on the demand side if you're expecting to get the outcomes for the supply side. So, we're starting to do our part, others are doing their part. It's all good stuff. But it's kind of a teach a man to fish model. We have to give them the tools and capacity to own this at the state and local level.
That's the only way we're going to address this in a systemic way across the country.
Jackson: And I just wanted to share, we are taking questions. So, if you have some, drop them in the Q&A. [Eva Wright] is asking about how, does the chamber collaborate with workforce development boards? And Tracy, I want to open this question up, actually, to both of you all. When I started working at New Profit, I learned that [in] 2019, one in 12 workers went to their local workforce board and job center for upskilling.
And these are a lot of folks who may not have other options. So, really wondering how we are thinking about partnering with these boards, with these innovative models and training programs?
Tyszko: Yep. So, we have a number of examples with our talent supply chain networks where there are workforce boards that actually recognize our employer collaboratives as their sector partnerships. And they get the added benefit of the data those collaboratives produce.
And now, they're getting, straight from the employers themselves, primary source workforce data. How rare is that? An aggregate form of what are the critical jobs? How many do we need, when and based on what business assumptions? What are the skill and competency requirements that we've refined and improved to remove bias and barriers?
Where we historically source from? Where we could source from? What's our current capture and leakage rate? And who will be our preferred providers going forward? All that information is worth its weight in gold. And we often have none of it, or using proxy LMI data. So, what we think is, if you have a workforce board that wants to create sector-based partnerships on steroids, I got a playbook for you.
And we have a lot of real-world examples. And in fact, in some areas where—everywhere is different, every state and community is different, so we try to create the most agile types of tools and partnerships possible. We've actually trained workforce boards on our talent supply chain system, so they can organize the collaboratives themselves.
So, there's all different ways that we worked with them. We think their work is terrific. But we'd love to continue to explore public-private models where workforce boards really empower and infuse leadership and employer collaboratives. And think of all that intelligence you're going to get in that granular primary source information that will fundamentally transform how you can underwrite workforce investments in the programs those employers work with.
And we think that's just a very different approach than traditional advisory boards, and one that would allow workforce boards to get better data and could take a more meaningful action and get better outcomes as a result.
Jackson: And so, are you saying that folks can call you if they're interested or e-mail you?
Tyszko: That's what I do. That's my job.
Jackson: OK. Very good. Very good.
Tyszko: The thing is, with the U.S. Chamber, we're not government, we can't mandate anything. We're ready and willing. So, everyone we work with, it's because folks have opted in, they volunteered, they wanted to try something different, learn something. So, anyone who wants to work with us, we will find a way to work with you.
That's how we operate. And we're already talking to Tracy and several others about how are we going to take this talent finance stuff to the next level. This is our time. Now is the time to do it. So, who's going to be the tip of the spear with us?
Jackson: Can't agree more. Tracy, any thoughts that you have?
Jackson: Yes? What, Stu?
Andreason: I just wanted to say that you, all in the Grand Challenge, have some really great ideas about how you're going to engage workforce boards and a lot of these innovations. And so, I wanted to bring that up and see if you wanted to provide any color on that.
Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. And then, I'll let Tracy jump in there. We see, as I mentioned earlier, workforce boards as just really a key partner of ours. There's one thing about surfacing these accelerated training programs and wraparound supports, but we really want to know how they work and for who and what context.
So, what we're doing is we're selecting five workforce boards that we're going to pilot. We put out an RP with our partner, JFF, two weeks ago, and just ask boards to apply if they were interested in trying some new innovations and taking this journey with us, giving them a grant funding for their time.
We're also underwriting, when I say "we," New Profit and its partners, underwriting the cost of the innovations and the training. So, really, it's like working with workforce boards who get to have an opportunity to try some new innovations with job seekers. And we're doing this with trainings what we're calling occupations of the future.
So, XPRIZE took a look at BLS data, and really thought about and filtered it for what jobs are not estimated to be automated in the next three to five years. And then, thought about what jobs don't require an associate's degree, because we wanted to make sure that we were targeting this initiative to people with the most barriers.
And with our boards, we're going to basically launch that training in March of next year. And the entrepreneurs are going to be tasked with training and placing 500 workers each. We know that's an ambitious goal, but we feel that's a drop in the bucket when you think about the number of people who are actually unemployed.
And we want to take the learnings from that, again, and transfer that to other workforce boards. And really, I've written about this before, that workforce boards are the best kept secret. We want more innovators to begin thinking about boards and job centers and bringing their innovations to those communities.
Palandjian: I don't have much to add on the workforce board front. I completely agree with both of you, Angela and Jason. But as you were talking about the data that you hope to collect and to understand what programs are working for whom and delivered by whom. I just wanted to share quickly that we just launched an RFEI to find a learning partner for our learning agenda.
So, as you can appreciate, the investment fund with around a dozen career impact bonds, the Evergreen Pay It Forward funds that we'll be establishing with states, we're going to be collecting so much data. And I think we all appreciate that the workforce bases are pretty under-evidenced arena.
So, we're hoping to find an evaluation partner, a learning partner to understand what to do with this data. We're regularly collecting data from our training providers, sociodemographic data, but also program experience, persistence, attrition, graduation, how they use social services, how are they getting placed into jobs, how are they using career coaching, and then, importantly, the long tail of earnings and repayment patterns.
If you'll overlay all of this, it's going to be really exciting to see. And we can continue to refine these models to make sure that we're serving different populations, not with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Jackson: Tracy, that's exactly what we found. We've had over 1,500 innovators apply to both of our challenges, thus far. And the deadline is in November. And I asked one of the innovators who was VC-funded, well-funded, why are you applying for this challenge? And he said, "It's not about the money." He said, just what you said, Tracy, "There's not a lot of evidence out there about what works and for who."
And he thought it was really important to put his product out there in different contexts. So, when we're choosing our boards, we're choosing urban boards, rule boards, we're choosing red states, blue states, because we really want this to be representative of the United States, when we talk about scale and what works.
And we know that with so many different people out of work, there's so much varied interest. We know that's not going to be one sector and a one-size-fits-all, like you mentioned. And we're working with Brandeis University as our learning partner. Because to your point, lots of data points, how do we make sense of those? And how do we share those?
We had one question that came in is, are there any specific initiatives geared toward veterans with significant barriers to employment? And so, how are we thinking about engaging the veteran community?
Palandjian: Well, while Jason thinks about, he probably has many more examples, but I have an extraordinary example, which is a DARPA incubated program that is now a company in the real world, which is the second career impact bond that we launched out of the UP fund. The company is called Acuitus. It's been in development for the last 10-plus years.
It has an extraordinary evaluated impact on veterans. So, basically, they use a digital tutor. And a veteran would interact with this digital tutor as a full time five-month course. And on the other hand, the statistics around job placement and sustained earnings and IT network administration is extraordinary. People earning north of $70,000, $80,000, with sustained pathways for advancement.
It's a program, first and foremost, tailored to the veteran population. And the founders are now thinking about expanding it for civilian population, but it's like AI meets personalized learning.
Jackson: I love that. I know we have two minutes left. But we're going to get in just one more question from Mary Ross. She said the challenge of technology and broadband, how are we thinking of that? And so, I'm going to answer just quickly from a New Profit perspective. With our worker advisory board, we are giving stipends and grants for technology, and also laptops.
But there are other innovators and entrepreneurs who are out there innovating with bootcamps, who are also providing laptops. I know Kapor Capital has a new initiative where they're providing laptops. Tracy, I know you're not a direct to consumer, or Jason, but how are you all thinking about the digital divide and training in this social distance atmosphere?
Tyszko: Well, from the chamber side, the chamber proper side, we definitely are talking about these issues as it relates to remote work and the pandemic. And we do recognize that the digital divide is a significant constraint on our ability to achieve economic recovery, and to get more people plugged back into work. So, there's a number of conversations happening here on the Hill about how we're exactly going to tackle that problem.
I can't probably share more than that. But it's definitely recognized by us as one of the major barriers to recovery. And I think you're seeing a number of groups talking about broadband access and access to certain technology capabilities as now something like a fundamental right, that it has to be universal and that's just the way it's going to be, so we have to treat it as the infrastructure that it is, much like we treat our highways or anything else.
So, I think that the tone and tenor around the conversation has changed. But it remains to be seen if it's going to manifest itself in real leadership and investment. But for our part, we're definitely pushing for it.
Jackson: Excellent. Well, Stuart, we are close to time. And so, Jason, you get the last words. Stuart, I will turn it back over to you. But just want to thank Jason and Tracy for this conversation. And I know there's a lot of questions that will be answered. Stuart, if you can share more information on that?
Andreason: Yes, absolutely. Let me just say on behalf of the Atlanta Fed, thank you to Angela, thank you to Tracy, thank you to Jason for joining today. We've gotten a lot of great information and resources. We will be pulling that together in a resource document that we share with all of the attendees and publish live. Give us about a week and a half to do that.
And we will share it out and share it broadly. And look for our last Ask Us Anything next month, our last one of 2020 next month. And so, just again, on behalf of the Atlanta Fed, thank you all so much for joining today. And please reach out with ideas and thoughts for the future. So, thanks so much. Thank you, Tracy. Thank you, Angela. Thank you, Jason.
Jackson: Thank you.
Palandjian: Thank you, everyone.
Jackson: Take care.
Andreason: All right. Bye, everyone.