Many corporate funders are eager to address the gap between jobseekers looking for upward career paths, but at the same time there are a sea of unfilled “middle-skilled” jobs in industries like healthcare and financial services. It’s an area where grantmaking may be able to substantially improve economic opportunity for low-income people—and firms get a better applicant pool for their trouble.
Microsoft, Siemens, Citi, and Bank of America are among the many corporate funders involved in this space, but JPMorgan Chase has emerged as a powerhouse. Since late 2013, JPMorgan’s $250 million New Skills at Work initiative has been rolling out a stream of grants to close the skills gap, with a focus on urban areas. And don’t forget the bank’s complementary $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative. Lots of money here.
JPMorgan Chase isn't the only corporate funder backing this type of project. Recently, Microsoft Philanthropies signed onto the Markle Foundation’s Skillful platform in a big way. In partnership with LinkedIn, Skillful’s Colorado debut may prefigure further funder-backed expansion. But right now, these career portals seem largely tailored to particular cities.
Case in point: After finding a major case of jobs-to-skills mismatch in Houston, JPMorgan Chase funded Petrochemworks.com, an online portal for jobseekers in the petrochemical industry. To develop Petrochemworks, JPMorgan worked with the Council for Adult Experiential Learning (CAEL), a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to adult learning opportunities.
JPMorgan Chase invested nearly $600k to develop the site. While that isn’t much compared to some of the bank’s other voluminous grantmaking in this space (or the many millions that Microsoft has poured into Markle’s Skillful), it’s still a sizable bet on a website.