Economic Empowerment, Education, Inclusive Impact, Policy, Postsecondary and Career Pathways, Systemic Solutions

New Profit Launches a Future of Work Grand Challenge with XPRIZE and MIT Solve

$6 million in collaborative funding available to accelerate solutions to train and place millions of workers into higher-skilled, higher-wage careers

BOSTON, Massachusetts, June 22, 2020: Today, the venture philanthropy organization New Profit and a coalition of partners launched the Future of Work Grand Challenge, powered by XPRIZE and MIT Solve. The cross-sector, equity-focused effort aims to rapidly reskill 25,000 displaced workers into higher wage jobs in the next 24 months and equip influential workforce boards with vetted tools to support the wave of displaced workers in six months. The Future of Work Grand Challenge  will achieve broader systemic change to help prepare 12 million Americans from underinvested communities for workforce success by 2025. 

In a first-of-its-kind partnership, the Future of Work Grand Challenge includes two separate, but related prize competitions. The first, XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, will help underserved workers overcome numerous systemic problems and societal barriers to learning, progress and mobility — reducing the time it takes to train for and land higher wage jobs by 50 percent. The second: Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge, run by Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in partnership with the Morgridge Family Foundation, will power a six-month competition through its award-winning open innovation platform to find and support the most promising solutions to help workers assess their skills, find high-growth jobs, match and get placement support. By structuring the initiative this way, the Future of Work Grand Challenge will spur innovation by putting equity at its core, seeking ideas from diverse entrepreneurs and advancing solutions that serve the most under-invested workers. The challenge aims to drive resources and support to at least 40% African American, Latinx, and Indigenous innovators and entrepreneurs.

America is facing enormous challenges.  In the months since the start of coronavirus shutdowns, we’ve seen a record-high 44.2 million Americans file for unemployment. And while Americans from all sectors are being impacted, certain populations, including those individuals without a post-secondary credential, are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks. According to a recent paper from Opportunity@Work, some 71 million Americans without degrees have the skills to perform higher-wage work. We know they are predominantly from low-income households and communities of color. The system has been failing them for decades, and it simply cannot support the demand that now exists. The Grand Challenge will fund solutions that use real-time labor market insights and connect individuals to the training they need to obtain higher-skilled, higher-wage work today and adapt to future changes in the job market.

“No matter how you look at it, the future of work is now. In launching this prize, we have a rare opportunity to accelerate solutions which are built by diverse teams and work for the communities most impacted by centuries of unfair policies and practices. The Future of Work Grand Challenge partnership provides a critical inflection point to shape the economy of the future.”

— Dr. Angela Jackson, Partner, New Profit

Implementation of winning ideas is central to the Grand Challenge strategy. Jobs For The Future will equip five innovation-oriented workforce boards to use Solve’s solutions and XPRIZE’s training technologies to reach the anticipated wave of one million displaced workers they’ll be serving. Ultimately, creating workforce playbooks to be used with the 538 workforce boards nationwide. 

“XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling is designed to address the reality of a changing workforce where technology is displacing workers at unprecedented pace, which has only been heightened by COVID-19. XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling reimagines the entire work process from education to employment, and we’re excited to work with New Profit to help uplift the American labor market and better prepare workers for the digital revolution.”

— Anousheh Ansari, CEO, XPRIZE

The MIT Solve Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge is open to submissions starting on June 22. XPRIZE’s Rapid Reskilling challenge will begin accepting community feedback on guidelines beginning on June 22 and formal submissions will be accepted in September 2020. 

“Covid-19, and the existing racial injustices that the pandemic has exacerbated, has led to a historic economic and social crisis in the U.S. with unprecedented levels of instability, unemployment, and financial struggle. Solve is proud to partner with Morgridge Family Foundation and New Profit on the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge, which is an opportunity to identify, support, and scale promising solutions that accelerate pathways to current and future employment--especially for underserved communities across the U.S.”

— Alex Amouyel, Executive Director, MIT Solve

The Future of Work Grand Challenge is supported by a growing coalition of cross-sector partners including Walmart.org, Strada Education Network, Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Lumina Impact Ventures, Siegel Family Endowment, Accenture, the Morgridge Family Foundation, IBM, CSU Global, Gary Community Investments and others. Complementing the start-up and early-stage enterprises that will be incentivized and funded through the Grand Challenge, New Profit’s Postsecondary Innovation for Equity initiative has invested in 20 social entrepreneurs who are building evidence behind new approaches to connecting young adults from underinvested communities with the postsecondary credentials and work experience needed to access upwardly mobile careers. 

Additional resources:

About New Profit: 

New Profit is a nonprofit venture philanthropy organization that backs breakthrough social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity in America.                     

New Profit’s investment strategy focuses on building a breakthrough portfolio to take on entrenched systemic challenges in America, particularly by driving resources and support to Black, Indigenous, and Latino/a/x social entrepreneurs who have unique proximity to solutions, but face stark racial funding disparities in philanthropy; investing in social entrepreneurs with new systems change models across a range of issues; and creating jobs and opportunity by funding Future of Work innovation.

New Profit’s Future of Work Initiative is funded by Strada Education Network and Walmart.org.

About XPRIZE:

XPRIZE designs and operates multi-million-dollar, global competitions to accelerate the development of technological breakthroughs that benefit humanity. Active competitions include the $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE and the $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, and the $10 Million Rainforest XPRIZE. For more information, visit xprize.org.

About MIT Solve: 

Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting, transformational impact. Join Solve on this journey at solve.mit.edu.

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