New Profit invests in six social entrepreneurs expanding opportunity in America
Learn about the innovative, community-centered solutions their organizations have built to improve educational and economic mobility outcomesNovember 2, 2022
New Profit, the venture philanthropy organization, is thrilled to announce investments of $1 million in each of six nonprofit organizations driving transformational change in education and economic mobility in America. As New Profit approaches its 25th anniversary in 2023, we are excited to expand our support for high-impact social enterprises led by visionary entrepreneurs who center the assets, expertise, and aspirations of the communities they serve.
The unrestricted funding is coupled with tailored capacity-building support over a four-year term to help each organization deepen their impact, broaden their scale, and drive systems-level change. Keep reading to learn more about each organization:
BARR Center provides schools an evidence-based system where students succeed, adults thrive and strengths are recognized, regardless of race or economic status.
In the United States, approximately 15 percent of high school students do not graduate on time, and this rate is higher for Black and Hispanic students, students from low-income families, students who are English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. Research shows that students who are not on track at the end of ninth grade are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school within four years, and the dropout and failure rates are highest in ninth grade.
Through her experience as a school counselor in St. Louis Park, MN, Angela Jerabek, Founder and Executive Director of BARR Center, recognized that if students felt a sense of belonging, were recognized for their strengths, and had adults in the school building that would work with them collaboratively, the students would do better and staff would be more effective. The recognition of these truths planted the seed for the BARR Center’s model.
The BARR Center’s improvement model builds a system focused on intentional relationships, utilizes data, and enables schools to achieve concrete academic, social, and emotional outcomes for all students. Over the course of three years, the BARR team provides professional development to teachers and works with schools to implement each of these strategies.
BARR has a substantial and growing body of high-quality evidence that participation in the BARR model results in positive outcomes for students and teachers. This includes the Scale-up grant, which is the largest and most current study completed to date. Schools using BARR experience a 35 to 40 percent reduction in failure rates, improved scores in math and ELA, increased student engagement, and reduced opportunity gap. Across three major studies, BARR had consistent positive impacts on credit attainment, course failure, and academic achievement and grades.
Cara Collective engages job seekers, employers, and other organizations to build an inclusive economy by developing employment pathways to advance transformative individual and community success.
Despite historic labor shortages, there is an incredible talent pool that is often overlooked. Millions of individuals are served by social service agencies, homeless shelters, and recovery homes, but struggle to become self-sufficient because of barriers to employment including a lack of education credentials, involvement in the legal system, or long gaps in work history.
Cara Collective reconnects individuals from communities facing major barriers to economic mobility with the power of gainful employment. The organization’s program combines leadership development, transitional job experiences, permanent job placement, and coaching services. Refined over more than three decades, the Cara Collective approach has a dual focus on both workplace competencies and socio-emotional skills to fully support members of overlooked communities and ensure the success of its program participants.
Cara Collective is led by Dr. Kathleen St. Louis Caliento, who joined in 2021 to build on her two decades committed to urban education, student success, and dismantling social injustice.
Since 1991, Cara has supported more than 8,000 people with getting placed into more than 12,500 jobs. Currently, Cara engages approximately 1,000 jobseekers annually. Cara also tracks the social return on investment and community impact of their direct service work with program participants, estimating a one-year SROI of more than $6 million, including nearly $5 million in annualized savings to society through a reduced need for government benefits, substance abuse treatment, and healthcare subsidies.
CodePath brings together employers, students, and colleges to eliminate inequities in tech education, diversify the field, and provide underrepresented students with a path toward economic mobility.
Today, the postsecondary education system is not equipped to offer equitable and effective pathways to the most competitive and highest-paying technical roles, leading to a lack of diversity in tech. According to the American Community Survey, only 8 percent, or 588 Black computer science graduates, become software engineers in an industry of 1.4 million. Much of what drives this disparity is structural, including the propensity for major companies to recruit from top-ranking universities, the lack of industry-relevant training at academic institutions, and the tendency of many introductory computer science courses to ‘weed’ out students.
CodePath has built infrastructure that layers onto the existing postsecondary education system to ensure that students nationwide have access to the tech sector’s most competitive roles. Its no-cost programs are developed by software engineers and center on the needs and successes of students who self-identify as Black, Latinx, Indigenous, or come from low-income backgrounds. CodePath is building a two-sided marketplace for tech, cultivating job-ready students on the supply side, and trusted employer partnerships on the demand side while delivering systemic change to universities.
CEO Michael Ellison founded CodePath in 2017. Michael is a serial entrepreneur, having founded three nonprofits and three tech startups, including a Y-Combinator-backed company acquired for over $3 billion. His vision is not only to increase diversity in tech but to remove ‘luck’ from the equation of our nation’s technical education system.
CodePath has run courses across 70 universities and has taught nearly 20,000 students since 2017. Today CodePath has emerged as one of the largest training providers for early talent, with 7,000 students participating in its rigorous, industry-backed programs in 2022 and 2,500 alums working at Fortune 500 companies as software engineers.
Inner-City Computer Stars (i.c.stars) is an educational and workforce development organization offering technology training, leadership development, and career readiness to inner-city young adults.
Systemic racism and inequitable economic systems have prevented low-income people of color from fully participating in the economy, finding employment, or getting access to quality education. This has led to economic stagnation in communities and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and hopelessness. And while the speed of growth of the tech economy has transformed the lives of many, it has not benefited communities of color who are eager to break into the field. In the U.S. 40 percent of employers report that their businesses face skills shortages, and surveys estimate that between 700,000 and 900,000 tech jobs remained unfilled.
i.c.stars was founded to close the gaps in the education-to-employment pipeline by creating a leadership development program for underserved, unemployed or underemployed people of color in the Midwest through digital skills training. The Chicago-based organization fuses digital skills training, leadership development, wraparound services, career support, and a growing network of employer and corporate partners to help people from overlooked communities secure careers in tech, become financially independent, and transform into leaders driven to affect positive change in their respective communities.
The organization is led by Sandee Kastrul, an experienced educator, thought-leader, and organizational manager who has cultivated and stewarded organizations and work streams dedicated to reimagining the workforce development and technology spaces. i.c.stars’ impactful and community-responsive model is anchored in Sandee’s and the team’s belief and orientation of supporting the “whole” participant. There are multiple, mutually reinforcing touch points that address the technical, socio-economic, emotional, and leadership needs of their participants through programming, civic and community-based projects, mental health services, reciprocal exercises, and other wraparound services. The program’s short and long term impact is a result of the intentional, multiple points of interventions that address and reflect the needs of program participants.
The Knowledge House creates a pipeline of talented workers equipped with technical skills that provide economic opportunity, living wages, and career mobility. Their model combines specialized training in digital skills, coding and design, career support, and a comprehensive network of partners to help disconnected job seekers secure rewarding careers in the tech industry.
People of color are being disproportionately left out of the growing tech industry. The current distribution of tech sector jobs is marked by deep inequalities that cut across gender, race, and ethnicity: 71 percent of the tech workforce are men, 62 percent are white, and only 9 percent are Black. There is a critical need for different postsecondary education pathways that help people of color break into the growing tech industry through a focus on technology and digital skills as well as wraparound services.
The Knowledge House offers software and design job training, access to professional networks, and a diverse set of support services that meet the unique needs and positions of its graduates for successful careers in the tech sector. TKH is led by Jerelyn Rodriguez, a deeply proximate leader who has grown up in the community she serves, and has developed new pathways for people without college degrees to prepare and succeed in sustainable tech careers. Jerelyn previously coordinated STEM after-school programs at Braven, a New Profit portfolio organization, and was honored as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Education in 2016.
The Knowledge House’s program consists of 36 weeks of training, followed by a 3-month paid internship, in which fellows receive on-the-job training and case management support. Upon completing the internship, the Fellows undergo a final job to transition into full-time roles. The model has achieved strong initial outcomes for its students and fellows, graduating 80 percent of its 1,900 students. In 2020, 90 percent of TKH’s Innovation Fellows were placed into their first technical roles with an average starting salary of $90,000.
Basta’s mission is to close the employment gap for first-generation students of color and change the face of workforce leadership.
For first-generation college graduates, wage and employment disparities between them and their more privileged peers are well-known. These disparities, however, are compounded by network effects that operate outside of their control. For one, data show that top firms have a tendency to hire from a small number of selective universities—universities where first-generation students are systematically underrepresented. Additionally, research has found that more than two-thirds of students whose parents attended college relied on family connections to find their first jobs. This reality results in a widening gap for first-generation students in both real and expected wages for their first jobs.
Basta’s program model works to enhance the social capital of young people, with an emphasis on first-generation college students of color. The organization’s programs, products, and services achieves this by enhancing students’ networks, preparing young people for the particularities of the contemporary job market, and confronting inequitable hiring practices. By addressing not only student preparedness but also employer behaviors, Basta takes a systems-level approach on both the supply and demand sides while also partnering with intermediaries such as higher-ed and nonprofit organizations working with young people.
Sheila Sarem, a first-generation Iranian American, leads Basta after moving from Title 1 public schools to a majority white, “high performing” school. This experience gave her an early sense of how much the “American Dream” depends on your zip code.
As a first-mover, Basta is one of a handful of organizations with demonstrable results in the field. Thanks to their scaling engine “Powered By Basta”, 5000+ job seekers have experienced Basta career readiness programming. Through their direct service program, the “Basta Fellowship”, nearly 80 percent of participants are securing career pathway employment upon college graduation with over 90 percent being retained or promoted after one year and alumni rising through the ranks at the companies like Bloomberg, Accenture, AlphaSights and BNY Mellon.
These six organizations join a portfolio of nonprofit organizations led by visionary social entrepreneurs advancing opportunity in America. As New Profit approaches its 25th anniversary in 2023, we are proud to back leaders who are creating transformational change in education, economic mobility, health equity, and democracy. Earlier this year, New Profit made investments in 48 organizations as part of its Catalyze Investments portfolio. Those cohorts included early-stage social enterprises generating impact in education, economic mobility, health equity, and democracy across the United States. The portfolio growth at New Profit is being led by Molly O’Donnell and Amina Fahmy Casewit, who were elevated to Lead Partners earlier this year.
About New Profit
New Profit is a venture philanthropy organization that backs social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity in America. New Profit exists to build a bridge between these leaders and a community of philanthropists who are committed to catalyzing their impact. New Profit provides unrestricted grants and strategic support to a portfolio of organizations led by visionary social entrepreneurs to increase their impact, scale, and sustainability. It also partners with social entrepreneurs and other cross-sector leaders to shift how government and philanthropy pursue social change to ensure that all people can thrive. Since its founding in 1998, New Profit has invested over $350M in 200+ organizations and, through the America Forward Coalition’s collective advocacy efforts, has unlocked over $1.7B in government funding for social innovation.
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