Economic Mobility, Postsecondary and Career Pathways

New Profit Unveils Top 15 Ideas For an Equitable Economy as its Future of Work Grand Challenge Enters Implementation Phase

The Grand Challenge, powered by XPRIZE, MIT Solve, and JFF, gives solution teams access to $6 million in funding to implement solutions that will train and place millions of workers.

March 16, 2021

BOSTON, Massachusetts, March 16, 2021: Today, the venture philanthropy organization New Profit and a coalition of partners announced 15 teams for the Future of Work Grand Challenge. This announcement marks the beginning of the next phase focused on the implementation of the selected solutions to rapidly reskill 25,000 workers into higher-wage jobs, and equip influential workforce boards with vetted tools to help get Americans back to work.

Over 1,200 teams from 26 countries submitted solutions to the Future of Work Grand Challenge, which consists of two separate but related prize competitions powered by XPRIZE and Solve. XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling selected ten qualified teams for round two, asking teams to demonstrate the effectiveness of rapid training and reskilling solutions for individuals most vulnerable to employment loss in the United States. Solve selected an additional five winning teams in the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the U.S. Challenge.

The fifteen solutions from both competitions address a wide range of systemic barriers to learning, progress and socioeconomic mobility – from getting people back to work through electric vehicle charging stations to developing a bold new model of apprenticeship for creative careers to programs that help close resource gaps for underinvested communities like immigrants, refugees, and formerly incarcerated individuals.

“The Future of Work Grand Challenge represents an ambitious collaboration between entrepreneurs, philanthropy, employers and frontline workers to accelerate solutions from diverse teams that have the potential to shape the economy of the future,” said Dr. Angela Jackson, Managing Partner at New Profit. “As we move into testing and implementation of the finalists’ solutions, we are hopeful that our findings can inform future policies that center the voices of communities most impacted by pandemic job losses, the digital skills gap, and centuries of unfair policies and practices.”

In the next phase of the Grand Challenge, entrepreneurs will continue to develop technological solutions, create content delivery platforms, refine training curricula to meet regional needs, and prepare for the first stages of testing and implementation. All entrepreneurs are committed to equipping job-seekers with skills and competencies that enable them to secure a job that pays a living wage and where career advancement opportunities allow for upward mobility. JFF is leading this effort by providing support to six regional workforce boards—organizations that advance community-led workforce and economic development strategies—who will pilot the technology solutions and connect more than 25,000 displaced workers with new skills and employment opportunities. The pilot program will inform the creation of innovation playbooks that can be rolled out to all 538 workforce boards nationwide.

“Workforce boards can leverage their unique reach and expertise to inform workforce solutions that are responsive to real-time regional labor market demands,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF. “Through our partnership with the Future of Work Grand Challenge, we are bringing together the most innovative technology solutions and the established infrastructure of local workforce organizations to build a better system for workers in need of support.”

Since its inception in June 2020, the Future of Work Grand Challenge has focused on centering worker voices and implementing their meaningful input into every level of the innovation phases. Frontline workers from racially, ethnically, experientially, and geographically diverse backgrounds are involved in the Grand Challenge as co-designers, advisors, and judges through the XPERT Worker Advisory Board (a collaboration with partners including Goodwill Industries International and Education Design Lab).

“As a member of the XPERT Worker Advisory Board, I am learning new skills and training in the world today and I am able to open up and give my advice to others to help others like me in the near future,” said Zenoble Briars, XPERT Worker Advisory Board Member. 

The 10 Qualified Teams from the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Competition include:

The five winners of the Solve Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge include:

Workforce boards selected as pilot sites for the Future of Work Grand Challenge include:

The Grand Challenge is made possible by lead funders Walmart and Strada Education Network. Additional funding is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Comcast NBCUniversal, the Fossil Foundation, Imaginable Futures, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Lumina Impact Ventures, Morgridge Family Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Siegel Family Endowment, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The initiative also brings together a consortium of design and operating partners driving positive change in workforce development including Brandeis University, Education Design Lab, Goodwill Industries International, and Jobcase.

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.


About XPRIZE: XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal, $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, $10 Million XPRIZE Rainforest, $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, $6 Million XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing, $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, and $500K Pandemic Response Challenge. For more information, visit


About JFF: JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For more than 35 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. Join us as we build a future that works.