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.
Merit America is on track to reach 2,500 students in 2022. Its graduation rate is more than 80 percent, and nearly all the graduates are getting jobs with starting salaries averaging more than $45,000, at least $18,000 more than before the program. Merit America has strong employer partnerships with companies like Google, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Infosys, and Better. 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.