Solution Overview

Solution Name:

The Knowledge House

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One-line solution summary:

The Bronx Digital Pipeline and digitalpipeline.io expand career opportunities for historically underserved communities of color.

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Pitch your solution.

The Knowledge House (TKH) is committed to reducing inequalities in the digital workforce for Bronx residents. In order to empower a pipeline of technologists, entrepreneurs, and digital leaders to uplift their communities out of poverty, we work to address the barriers faced by low-income communities, historically underserved communities, and underemployed individuals when accessing the digital workforce. Our proposed solution to this inequality is the Bronx Digital Pipeline (BxDP) tech platform called digitalpipeline.io, which will 1) provide the public with digital literacy training and support services, 2) offer credentialing in partnership with Bronx CUNYs through articulation agreements, and 3) matching participants on the platform to technical job training, upskilling, and job placement in partnership with colleges and nonprofits. If scaled globally, digitalpipeline.io will serve an exponential number of job seekers, ultimately supporting them through the hurdles that currently exclude numerous historically underserved communities from working in technology.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The BxDP solution works to remove entry barriers, reduce inequalities, and provide equitable access to the digital workforce for underserved young people and jobseekers. With nearly 300,000 jobs in the technology sector in New York City alone, the distribution of technology jobs is marked by profound inequality that cuts across gender, race, and ethnicity. 

Research shows that geographic disparities, programming gaps, and capacity challenges limit access for underserved communities. Technology training programs are unevenly distributed throughout the city, demonstrating the strongest presence in the wealthiest areas. More than three-quarters of programs accessible to low-income adults focus on introductory skills and basic digital literacy; only a small number of programs offer in-depth training that could lead to employment. BxDP seeks to mend these gaps for Bronx residents, as well as providing a scalable prototype for nation-wide, if not fully global, solution to inequality within the digital workforce. 

Further, COVID-19 has exacerbated economic disparities. Unemployment rates in the Bronx (population over 1,400,000) are now 25%, and the poverty rate is the highest of any New York borough, at 27%. TKH uses technological workforce training as a means to empower digital leaders to lift their communities out of poverty.

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What is your solution?

Our digital workforce solution is the Bronx Digital Pipeline. It launched in 2016 as a strategic partnership among workforce development nonprofits and higher education institutions offering tech skills training to Bronx-based jobseekers to build a diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem. In 2020, TKH partnered with Sector to develop digitalpipeline.io, a tech product, to facilitate the partnership and connect Bronx residents to digital literacy training, tech training, and upskilling customized to employer needs leading to industry-recognized credentials and jobs in tech. 

digitalpipeline.io includes:

  • A content management system to help participants codify their prior learning assessments and credits/credentials from other programs and schools into a common academic/career portfolio. 

  • A student resource website including an online Course Catalogue that compiles technical training program schedules offered by BxDP partners and eligibility requirements in one portal.

  • An online jobs board with career management tools that support low-income jobseekers, including a universal intake application; a smart resume tool; real-time updates for employers; and tools for employers to access vetted talent. 

  • A virtual internship platform to digitize TKH summer programming and offer it online to youth and adult job seekers in need of summer opportunities.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

BxDP was designed to serve young people and jobseekers in the Bronx who are low-income, unemployed, or underemployed. Many of the young people and jobseekers served through TKH are primarily ages 14-35, have household incomes under $50,000, receive government benefits, and/or identify as foreign-born or first-generation immigrants. This population often faces cultural and socioeconomic barriers to attaining a post-secondary education and employment opportunities including, the inability to access high-cost coding boot camps and tech programs, financial illiteracy, a lack of at-home technology, and lack of transportation.

This year, TKH has engaged its program alumni to help build digitalpipeline.io in partnership with Sector. Alumni will also teach courses on digitalpipeline.io and provide feedback on implementation. TKH also includes the voices of young people from the community in its work as well. Earlier this year, TKH led a virtual listening tour to learn what Black and Latinx young people need to prosper and overcome the digital divide. TKH learned five lessons: 1) Internet Access Before Computer Access, 2) Foundational Skills For All, 3) Close The Gender Gap, 4) Work With Partners To Create Pipelines, and 5) Strengthen Infrastructure. TKH is building these critical lessons into its work and will continue community participation through ongoing focus groups and events.

digitalpipeline.io will address the employment needs of the described population by providing access to technology skills training and certifications to secure careers in tech and access postsecondary education. The platform will serve as a one-stop-shop for the Bronx community, allowing users to easily access services, tech training, and jobs. The platform also allows us to increase the number of students served while expanding usage to other students, training programs, and colleges in New York, Newark, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. As a result of BxDP, more young people and jobseekers will gain technology skills to secure employment in the tech industry, as well as economic opportunity, living wages, and career mobility.  

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Which dimension of the Digital Workforce Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Reduce inequalities in the digital workforce for historically underserved groups through improved hiring and retention practices, skills assessments, training, and employer education and engagement
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

TKH’s project directly aligns with the Digital Workforce Challenge. digitalpipeline.io addresses the inaccessibility of digital skills training and post-secondary opportunities for low-income, underemployed, and unemployed Bronx residents, especially for Black and Brown young people, a population historically left behind. Through digitalpipeline.io, TKH creates digital skills training and employment opportunities, provides equitable access to the digital workforce for the underserved, provides wraparound supports (such as mental health and food pantry supports) removing barriers to completion, and utilizes tools for employers to access vetted talent and provide updates. All of which align with the ServiceNow tech-enabled solutions.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

New York, NY, USA
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Is your solution already being implemented in one or more of the following ServiceNow locations (Australia/New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Kingdom, United States), or are you planning to expand your solution to one or more of these countries?

My solution is already being implemented in one or more of these ServiceNow locations

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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

TKH has selected the pilot stage because the BxDP initiative was launched in 2016 and has received over $500,000 in funding. The BxDP platform, digitalpipeline.io, formally launched in 2020. There are currently 525 users on the platform; most are from the Bronx, although there are users from across New York City. TKH will add a total of 15 partners and aims to add 500 new users to the platform by the end of 2021. As described earlier in the proposal, digitalpipeline.io is a new feature of the BxDP partnership between TKH, workforce development nonprofits, and higher education institutions in the Bronx offering tech skills training to young people.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Jerelyn Rodriguez

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the ServiceNow US Racial Equity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use the ServiceNow Digital Equity Prize to advance your solution?

TKH drives racial equity through digitalpipeline.io by increasing people of color’s access to economic opportunities including, job training, employment, living wages, and career mobility. 75% of TKH graduates, mostly Black and Latinx, land their first job in tech making $55,000, and grow their wages by 60% over time. Our solution is prescient given the disproportionately negative effect of COVID-19 on low-income people and people of color’s employment outcomes, especially in the Bronx where unemployment recently rose to 25%. 

Our staff and Board of Directors reflect the community we serve. Our staff is  90% Black, Latino, or Asian and are from or reside in the Bronx. TKH hires our program alumni to teach code to their younger peers with the advantage that youth are taught by someone who looks like them. Additionally, more than half of TKH’s board members identify as people of color, and 66% are women. TKH’s Executive team convenes weekly to track program outcomes and organizational health tied to racial equity goals. From staff to programming, every level of our organization is dedicated to racial equity. Digitalpipeline.io will maintain this trend. The ServiceNow Digital Equity Prize would be a vital contribution towards our efforts to create a racially equitable digital workforce, making the sector and the products it produces work for everyone. This funding will enhance our ability to develop the product, and expand its reach to more communities that need it.  

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

Digitalpipeline.io is an innovative solution to address the critical need for digital literacy training, tech training, and upskilling. The platform provides a centralized space with resources and information for young people and job seekers to access jobs in one portal, while allowing partners to deliver training and services more efficiently to a wider audience. 

The target market for this tool is $600M, including government and philanthropic agencies that invest in economic opportunities for historically underserved communities. If we are able to expand the tool to K-12 institutions, the market becomes $10.4B. What makes digitalpipeline.io solution especially catalytic is the opportunity to bring it to the corporate world, assisting them in recruiting and upskilling talent. With all three sectors mentioned incorporated into the tool, the total addressable market is $97B.

Our solution will:

  • Create broader pathways to quality tech jobs for low-income young people and jobseekers.

  •  Provide job training such as digital skills training, support services, and upskilling—including job placement, resumé building, and credentialing.

  • Improve the adaptations of occupations and/or industries most affected by COVID-19 by leveraging the increased need for digital fluency and preparing job seekers for tech employment.

  • Promote deeper partnerships between workforce development and education organizations, as well as employer partners to prepare for the future needs of the labor market and develop sector-based strategies.

Furthermore, Digitalpipeline.io can influence the workforce development sector to improve collaboration and data sharing practices and change policies and procedures that facilitate partnerships around curricula articulation and employment opportunities.

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

TKH partners with Sector, a tech startup, to power digitalpipeline.io. Digitalpipeline.io facilitates the job search process by documenting progress and growth along the learning-to-work pathway. By tracking data along the jobseeker journey, the platform can use AI to provide users with predictive analytics and personalized recommendations on their next steps, thus optimizing the job matching process. Digitalpipeline.io has an online Course Catalogue that compiles all technology training program schedules and eligibility requirements onto one portal to be shared with students. Lastly, a directory of human service organizations is available to provide housing, food assistance, and legal services.

On the back-end, TKH has built a referral system that allows us to identify applicants’ previous program participation. There is also an online jobs board with career management tools, including a smart resume tool, real-time updates for jobseekers, and tools for employers to access vetted talent. The platform also allows TKH to collect applications and administer an intake form that includes requests for demographics and a digital social, emotional learning assessment. This data is used to match students to program offerings and wrap-around services. 

Since 2019, TKH and Sector have raised grant funds to customize a solution for the Bronx. Digitalpipeline.io will utilize a B2B business model charging nonprofits and schools $10 per month per person and $100 per month for administrators. Moving forward TKH is creating pricing for employers, making the solution accessible to low-income job seekers.

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Provide evidence that this technology works. Please cite your sources.

While digitalpipeline.io is a new solution, Sector has six years of experience offering career service management tools to educational institutions and job seekers. Their tech solutions have served 4,000 users over the last three years. 

Last year, the cancelation of SYEP left 75,000 youth at risk of unemployment. In response, TKH and Sector offered a covid relief solution, the virtual internship program, to 350 summer bridge and summer youth employment program (SYEP) participants in New York. The tool was also adopted in New Jersey serving 300 additional students. By creating the virtual internship program, TKH helped hundreds of youth remain employed during the pandemic. Participants received tech training, online digital literacy skills workshops, and career workshops four days a week for a summer stipend.

Additional evidence supporting the success of our solution is TKH’s track record of directly training young people and job seekers. Over the last seven years, TKH has trained more than 1,900 diverse, low-income young adults. TKH programs have an 80% retention rate and 60% wage growth in the technology industry. More than 80% of TKH’s adult job trainees have graduated, and over 75% of alumni have successfully secured meaningful employment with salaries of more than $55,000. In 2020, TKH served a total of 300 participants with an 86% graduation rate. Companies that hire our adult graduates include Bloomberg LP, McKinsey and Company, DStillery, Citibank, Facebook, and Goldman Sachs.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Does this technology introduce any risks? How are you addressing or mitigating these risks in your solution?

Much like many web platforms, the primary risks digitalpipeline.io entails are data security and algorithmic bias. Given our platform’s function as a one-stop-shop for trainings and career opportunities in the technology sector, there will be a wide range of user data involved. Further, algorithmic bias and the risks it poses are becoming more evident to all who work within the sector. Particularly relevant to our solution, algorithmic bias regularly replicates the very same biases our platform is seeking to rectify. We are fully committed to continuously monitoring the safety and equity of our platform, and have already taken steps towards ensuring its security and equality. Sector has secured a cyber security audit firm to evaluate our safety risks annually, and to offer practical recommendations. Furthermore, the project’s lead engineer, Camille Eddy, specializes in preventing algorithmic bias. She has delivered more than 15 speeches on ethical concepts in AI, Robotics, and Engineering. She brings robust digital ethics experience to this project, which gives us the flexibility to continuously adapt the platform to reflect the latest standard in digital equity.

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • United States
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Digitalpipeline.io currently serves 525 young people and job seekers. By the end of 2021, TKH will serve 1,500 users on the platform. In 2022, TKH anticipates serving 5,000 users, and in five years, in 2026, aims to serve 100,000 users on the platform.

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and -- importantly -- how will you achieve them?

In 2021, TKH received 800 applications for its job training programs. As we expect an increase of applicants in 2022, TKH will integrate its program application with digitalpipeline.io, allowing us to add 1,000 new users to the platform. In addition, TKH will offer digital literacy workshops to thousands of Bronx residents via the platform. In the next five years, TKH will seek partnerships with government agencies serving unemployed job seekers, allowing us to reach 100,000 users. The design of digitalpipeline.io allows for scaling and will enable TKH to test licensing as an earned revenue stream. As TKH expands, we will scale digitalpipeline.io to our expansion cities of Atlanta, Newark, and Los Angeles to serve even more young people and adult job seekers across the country.

Additionally, TKH has developed organizational strategic impact goals to expand our services and deepen our impact. TKH is committed to scaling its programs to meet the need by serving more students in the Bronx and bringing TKH’s unique model to communities around the country.

  • Expand geographical footprint to new markets, leveraging TKH products, programs, and partnerships to build ecosystems within each market

  • Align TKH curricula with courses at local colleges to enable credentialing and strengthen employer integration through skills alignment & work opportunities

  • Provide continued support for TKH alumni throughout their careers (including coaching, placement services, and upskilling workshops)

  • Increase entry into postsecondary career pathways by increasing job placement from 75% to 85>#/span###

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

To measure progress toward the impact goal to Expand Services and Deepen Impact, TKH will use the following metrics: 

● Number of corporate sponsors

● Number of paid internships secured

● Number of enrollments in new locations

● Number of total program enrollments

● Number of college & school partners

● Number of employer partners

● Number of volunteer mentors

● Number of local mentors for expansion sites

● Placement percentage

TKH will measure the success of digitalpipeline.io by analyzing user data relating to programs and services utilized, employment outcomes, and wages. This also allows TKH to report challenges and successes to the government, private sector, and funders to drive policy change. Specifically, TKH will measure: 

  • Number of users

Conversion rate of user’s advancement in job search activity, including job searches saved, applications submitted, and interviews secured. Completing each milestone in the job search process will boost the likelihood of users advancing from submitted job applications to job security by 59%.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

The Knowledge House has 7 full time staff, 4 part time staff, and 3 independent contractors currently working on BxDP and digitalpipeline.io.


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How long have you been working on your solution?

5 years

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

TKH is uniquely positioned to deliver our solution because staff is 90% people of color who come from the same communities we are serving and have shared lived experiences. Furthermore, Sector is founded by a Black female engineer, Amina Yamusah and the digitalpipeline.io lead engineer is a Black female. TKH graduates are also working on maintaining the platform. TKH directly involves workers in the design and development of BxDP by hiring program alumni who advise on how to improve programs and job services for the communities we serve through focus groups on how to better support participants, college access, career workshops, and internship matching. 

Three key staff leading our solution.

  • Jerelyn Rodriguez is the CEO of TKH. Previously, she coordinated STEM after-school programming, joined Students for Education Reform, and worked in the public school system. She grew frustrated with the focus stakeholders had on college pathways for poor kids and wanted to expose low-income young people to alternative pathways to sustainable careers. 

  • Madeline Vera is the Senior Manager of Program and Operations. As an alumnus of TKH programming, she uses her experience to inform the program’s promising practices and areas for improvement. She oversees impact reporting and data systems.

  • Constance Barnes the Director of Programs and Partnerships for TKH. Her background weaves together education, advocacy, criminal justice reform, and technology. Her robust career has centered on the commitment to connecting under-resourced communities to opportunities that will change both their lives and their communities - a foundational asset for BxDP.


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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

TKH embodies the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the organization. TKH takes pride in being the only tech-training organization in NYC, founded and led by a Black woman. TKH is anti-racist, anti-poverty and our staff and Board of Directors reflect the community we serve. TKH has a staff of 18; 90% are Black, Latino or Asian and are from or reside in the Bronx, and at least half identify as first or second-generation immigrants. In addition, TKH hires alumni to teach code to their younger peers with the advantage that youth are taught by someone who looks like them. TKH is governed by nine Board of Directors, led by a Black woman and more than half of the Board identify as people of color.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are also intertwined in our programming. TKH drives racial equity by increasing people of color’s access to economic opportunities including job training, employment, living wages and career mobility.  TKH’s Executive team convenes weekly to track program outcomes and organizational health tied to racial equity goals. Last year, TKH’s primary goal was to support 100 Black and brown emerging technologists by partnering with corporations that made diversity and racial equity pledges after the murder of George Floyd. For 2021, the goals are to increase the hiring of our Black and brown students by equipping employers with the Resume Book, as well as making our programs more inclusive of participants with mental and physical disabilities.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to the 2021 Digital Workforce Challenge?

TKH is applying for the 2021 Digital Workforce Challenge to directly address the inaccessibility of digital skills training and post-secondary opportunities for low-income, underemployed, and unemployed Bronx residents, especially for Black and Latinx young people, a population historically left behind. Through digitalpipeline.io, TKH seeks to prepare those entering or re-entering the workforce with digital skills training, job opportunities, and wraparound services. We aim to reduce inequalities in the tech field by creating equitable access and improved hiring parctices.

Due to Covid19, the demand for TKH’s services has increased, and the ability to operate virtually and utilize digitalpipeline.io has allowed us to reach more people. This increase in demand and expansion to new markets requires us to increase our capacity and makes the need for funding greater. Support for the platform will allow us to scale career service management tools for underserved communities across the country. Eventually, this means rebranding the BxDP platform so that it is not Bronx-specific.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
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Please provide an overview of your current activities in those locations.

Digitalpipeline.io is currently being implemented in the United States. It is being piloted in the Bronx, NY to facilitate partnerships between TKH, other nonprofits, and higher-education programs. It provides 525 NYC residents access to digital literacy training, tech training, and upskilling customized to employer needs leading to industry-recognized credentials and jobs in tech. TKH will add a total of 15 partners and aims to add 500 new users to the platform by the end of 2021. Through the portal, participants are able to share resumes on a platform that is focused solely in the technology sector and employers trust that the talent pool is vetted through the integration of training providers to the site. As more employers and jobseekers enroll, placements to rewarding careers in the field will increase. The Knowledge House has exceed job placement goals for this year while utilizing the platform.

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Please explain in more detail here.

Over the next decade, the goal for BxDP is to place 1,500 graduates in tech jobs earning more than $55,000. This year alone, TKH anticipates 15 partners and 400 total users on the platform. In five years, in 2026, aims to serve 100,000 users on the platform, which means we will need to increase our corporate, government, and nonprofit partnerships. As we expand to three new cities, TKH hopes to secure partnerships to build ecosystems within each market. Having employer and college partners is crucial to the success of digitalpipeline.io because the interconnectivity of training partners, colleges, employer partners, and jobseekers support the needs of employers for qualified talent and workers for meaningful and gainful employment. Garnering support to continue to recruit both a workforce and businesses will help achieve organizational goals of job placement and access to quality jobs for Black and Brown jobseekers.

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

We would like to secure partnerships with corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, and colleges nationwide to increase the number of users served.  This includes the local workforce, American Job Centers, bootcamps, community colleges, universities, the Department of Labor, state government, foundations, and K-12 school districts. These potential partners serve a large number of our target population and collaboration with them ensures that we are able to not only recruit more participants to the platform but will also be able to have a wealth of job postings from these entities as well. Partnerships like these will allow us to maintain a robust job portal and help us to scale the platform in the future.

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Solution Team

  • Jerelyn Rodriguez Co-Founder and CEO, The Knowledge House
 
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