We provided the first funding to Merit America and have since supported its launch in New York City. Our catalytic grant led to Google creating a $100MM fund for three job placement programs, one of which is Merit America.
Merit America provides a path to skilled careers for those without bachelor’s degrees. The initiative offers deeper learning for underrepresented minorities and low- and moderate-income students through employer-aligned programming that includes mentoring and other support services. Merit America now partners with top employers to identify in-demand jobs for which they are struggling to hire qualified workers, to understand the specific skills needed, and to secure priority hiring commitments for their graduates. Merit America builds education programs backward from employers’ skill needs and co-locates in regions where jobs are available.
Professor Ben Castleman at the University of Virginia concluded an analysis of Merit America’s initial 1,000+ graduates and found that within 3 months of program completion, over 80% of Merit America graduates experienced a wage increase, from an average pre-program salary of $24,000 to an average post-program salary of over $50,000 – a $26,000 average wage gain. A corresponding Bridgespan study validated $117M+ in wage gains for learners served to date and showed that Merit America is on track to drive $21 in wage gains for every $1 in philanthropy spent in the next 3 years.
Merit America has strong employer partnerships with companies like Google, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase. In addition to building philanthropic support, Merit America has developed three earned revenue streams: 1) employer hiring fees from talent acquisition teams; 2) learner payment via a “Success Share Agreement”; and 3) upfront tuition paid by companies who want to upskill their workforce.