Catalytic Giving

Merit America

We provided catalytic funding to establish Merit America, an organization focused on underserved learners who have completed high school and are in the workforce but who are underemployed in low-paid work with limited career mobility. The primary outcome for these learners, recruited from community colleges and high schools, is upwardly-mobile careers that do not require the time and cost of traditional higher education and are flexible for individuals who need to work while gaining new skills. Merit America is focused on employer partners with a large employee base, significant hiring demand, evidence of supply shortage, growing industry need for digital skills, and leadership engagement. In its first year, Merit America signed employer partnerships with JP Morgan Chase, ManpowerGroup/Experis, and Pentagon Federal Credit Union, all of whom committed to identifying their middle-skill hiring needs, approving Merit learning programs, interviewing candidates, and providing financial support via placement fees. Content is delivered to Merit America learners through already-existing education technology companies such as Coursera, Udacity, and General Assembly. Eighty percent of learners complete the program; 70% of those learners then interview for a job related to their learning track within three months. Merit America tracks longitudinal, IRS-verified wages for participants for five years following completion of the program.