Opportunity@Work was founded in 2015, in part to support and grow TechHire, a White House initiative launched by our co-founder Byron Auguste to connect overlooked communities with technology job openings. We were originally “incubated” as a “civic enterprise” within New America, a think tank dedicated to bringing new ideas and voices into America’s public discourse.
In 2017, Opportunity@Work became an independent 501(c)(3) with two ambitious goals: (1) Develop and test platforms to provide tech-enabled solutions to solve the opportunity gap; and (2) Rally public, private, and nonprofit partners to rewire the labor market so that everyone can contribute their skills, talent, and energy in pursuit of a better life.
Recognizing the learning needed to solve this problem “at scale” Opportunity@Work has actively led several initiatives and betas to expand access to career opportunities for overlooked individuals.
A national network of community partners that create pathways for overlooked and underrepresented tech talent to gain skills and access to open technical jobs across the country, the TechHire initiative was announced by President Obama at The National League of Cities in March 2015.
TechHire communities were designed to bring businesses and community partners together to create pathways for more individuals to access tech training and well-paying jobs.
TechHire was launched with 21 communities and grew to 72 communities partnering with more than 1,300 employers and 237 training providers, collectively placing 4,000 people into jobs.
Launched in late 2016 based on feedback from TechHire community partners, TechHire.Careers was an inclusive hiring platform to connect employers with individuals who possess vetted technical skills.
TechHire.Careers was designed to support skills-based hiring so candidates could show what they can do – regardless of pedigree – and be hired for career-path jobs. Beta tested in partnership with TechHire Rhode Island, TechHire.Careers allowed candidates to demonstrate their technical skills through an online assessment and complete a practice interview conducted by volunteers to demonstrate their soft skills. Employers looking to hire candidates based on skill searched the site by location and skill set to find job-ready candidates who successfully completed the assessments. These assessments were co-created and refined with Dell, Amazon, Pinterest, and other leading companies filling tech roles.
During its beta phase, TechHire.Careers helped dozens of job seekers to secure career-path technology jobs in Rhode Island. More than 200 employers signed up, the volunteer recruiter feedback to TechHire candidates proved highly valued, and the platform was featured in HR Magazine, Forbes, and HuffPost.
Our Talent Equity Fund, piloted in November 2017, offered an income sharing financing opportunity for low-income and overlooked Americans to upskill or reskill for a new career without bearing excessive financial risk.
The Talent Equity Fund was designed to support students typically underrepresented in the tech community and otherwise unable to afford education. Our solution fundamentally realigned incentives for all stakeholders in the system — school, social investor, loan servicer — to drive high-quality, long-term outcomes for the individuals served. The Talent Equity Fund covered 100% of students’ upfront tuition costs for training, provided monthly living stipends, and offered career support. In return, students agreed to pay a portion of their income after completing their training and landing a job.
Our Talent Equity Fund launched two pilots under the name of Learn and Earn: one with General Assembly in Washington, D.C., and another with the Turing School of Design and Software in Denver, Colorado. Fuller results will be forthcoming as the job market experience of participants unfolds.