One-line solution summary:
Generation USA transforms education to employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into sustainable careers in technology.
Pitch your solution.
Generation USA provides free, bootcamp-style job training and placement support to unemployed and underemployed individuals. In response to the massive layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we innovated our services, drawing on learnings from our first five years of programming to enable an ambitious goal of training 500,000 people by 2030. Our formerly in-person programs and wraparound supports were redesigned to be fully online, while maintaining the high ratio of practice to instruction that is critical to graduate success. We’re targeting entry-level roles in technology that have both current hiring demand and projected continued growth. Finally, we’ve innovated our staffing model to allow us to support regional networks of community college partners to implement our programs at a larger scale and lower cost per participant, because it is clear that reskilling and reconnecting people to living-wage jobs is needed on a larger scale than anyone previously imagined.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed livelihoods at unprecedented scale, with those least able to endure economic shocks most at risk. Mass layoffs have left vast numbers of jobseekers with no option but to change career paths, and cutbacks in retail and hospitality industries disproportionately hurt young workers at the start of their careers. The individuals we serve were already facing barriers to employment in the pre-COVID economy, so we know that an equitable and resilient recovery will require solutions that provide accessible pathways to careers with thoughtfully-designed social supports to help them overcome barriers that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
With the widespread pivot to remote work accelerated by COVID-19, IT employers are struggling to fill roles to meet a surge in demand. There are currently 700,000 unfilled tech roles in the U.S., and software development jobs are projected to grow by 21% or nearly 300,000 jobs per year. Meanwhile, unemployment remains elevated, especially for women and minorities.
Generation has deep experience in crafting programs that deliver high (>80%) employment outcomes for the populations that are being hardest hit by COVID-19, and we view the current crisis as a call to action to do so at a much greater scale.
What is your solution?
Generation - with a mission to transform education to employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible - is committed to accelerating equitable economic recovery by training unemployed and underemployed individuals for roles in the tech sector.
Generation USA programs are built on a holistic methodology that addresses the needs of participants and creates positive return-on-investment for employer partners. From our inception, the end-to-end nature of our programs has been a deliberate design choice, seeking to address the main obstacles in the education-to-employment value chain. It stands apart from many other programs targeting employment outcomes through a single lever (particularly training, which is often incorrectly taken as synonymous with employment).
We have innovated our programs to be delivered fully online, and to focus primarily on technology roles where new doors are opening to hiring nontraditional candidates. Programs are designed to be accessible to participants without previous IT experience or higher education. Programs prepare learners to earn an industry-recognized tech credential. After graduation, Generation connects participants to paid internships, apprenticeships, and full time roles with our employer partners.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Generation programs are designed to serve unemployed and underemployed individuals who face barriers to success in the traditional education-to-employment system. Our participants:
Earn an average of $1,190 per month at the start of the program, with 64% unemployed
Are 85% BIPOC, including 69% Black or Latinx, and 50% identify as women
Range in age from 18 to 65+, with an average age of 34
44% are parents, and 32% single parents, meaning that income gains have intergenerational impact
Have a wide range of education and employment backgrounds, including 40% with 5 or more years of work experience, and 50% with only a High School education level
Face a myriad of barriers to employment, including transportation insecurity (4%), housing insecurity (7%), and health/mental health challenges (6%)
To effectively support our target participants, we ensure that the program is financially accessible: programs are completely free for participants, including the cost of certification exams, and we offer access to technology and, where funding is available, stipends to those who need them. Our programs are designed to be completed as quickly as possible while still preparing participants to be successful from day one in their new roles so that they are able to re-enter the workforce in a matter of weeks, not years. And we provide robust wraparound supports throughout the program, including 1:1 and group sessions with career and life coaches, to help participants navigate all of the barriers they may face.
Which dimension of the Digital Workforce Challenge does your solution most closely address?Prepare those entering, re-entering, or who are already in the workforce for the future of work with affordable and equitable digital skills, training, and employment opportunities
Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.
This challenge identifies that this moment in history presents an opportunity to increase diversity and equity in the digital workforce. Generation programs are working to scale rapidly to both capitalize on this moment of greater openness of tech employers to hiring nontraditional candidates, and to proactively connect individuals to opportunities who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We have continued our commitment to breaking down the barriers to employment systemic racism creates by developing additional on-ramps to careers - paid internships and apprenticeships - and by continuing our work to shift employer mindsets and hiring practices.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Washington D.C., DC, USA
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
What is your solution’s stage of development?Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency.
Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.
Generation USA is currently implementing technology training programs in 18 cities across the US. Over the past six years, we have served more than 6,000 individuals, including 1,800 so far in 2021. We've developed a scalable model to train and place individuals into meaningful careers, which we're leveraging to achieve significant growth over the next 10 years. By 2030, we aim to serve up to 90,000 individuals annually through partnerships with 150 community colleges across the country.
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
Sean Segal, CEO
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.
No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if ServiceNow is specifically interested in my solution/I do not qualify for this prize
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new application of an existing technology
What makes your solution innovative?
We believe Generation’s approach is innovative in multiple ways:
● Generation is not limited to a single sector or profession. Rather, we seek to identify a range of high-demand, employer-demand opportunities for varying professions. To date, we've offered programs in four sectors and 26 distinct professions—from nursing assistant to cloud support engineer. This allows us to be nimble in response to economic shifts and to ensure that we are always providing training for the most promising career pathways.
● We have designed tailored curricula to integrate technical, behavioral, and mindset skills required for the job, focusing on those activities that characterize high-performing employees from others. This activity mapping process is one of Generation’s key differentiators. Through an extensive interview process, our curriculum team hears directly from employers about what skills - technical, interpersonal, and emotional - are needed for success on the job and builds the program around these elements.
● The methodology is extremely flexible and cost efficient, with no need to construct physical classrooms. Our primary path to scale is through embedding our methodology within community college partners, which delivers additional impact by building community college capacity to engage employers and recruit students from the most vulnerable populations.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
The core technology powering Generation programs in the post-COVID world is online learning, which we deliver through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous time using our LMS, Canvas, and video conferencing via Zoom.
Programs also utilize vetted, widely-used technology training resources including Udacity, Educative, Scrimba, and A Cloud Guru to provide practical exercises that correspond with the Generation curriculum.
Generation's holistic 7-component methodology creates the flexibility to adapt our programs to prepare learners for a wide variety of entry-level professions and to online delivery.
Provide evidence that this technology works. Please cite your sources.
The core technologies facilitating Generation's online training programs are widely used by formal education providers (secondary school and college systems), peer training providers, and others. Educational resources are carefully vetted by our curriculum team to validate their effectiveness and alignment with the curriculum. Generation's employer-aligned curriculum prioritizes a 2:1 ratio of practice to instruction, and delivers both the soft and technical skills needed to succeed in the targeted entry-level technology profession. We've carefully monitored learner outcomes through the transition from in-person to fully online program delivery, and have seen consistently strong outcomes. Apart from graduation and job placement outcomes, learners have demonstrated the effectiveness of our online programs by passing industry-recognized certification exams aligned to each program. Certification exams are passed by 78% of Generation graduates. Certifications currently offered include:
- Facebook Certified Digital Marketing Associate
- Google Analytics Individual Qualification
- CompTIA A+
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Does this technology introduce any risks? How are you addressing or mitigating these risks in your solution?
Transitioning to online program delivery introduces some level of risk around training effectiveness compared to in-person programs. It also introduces potential concerns around access to the technology needed to participate. We're mitigating these risks through curriculum innovations to ensure programs remain immersive and practice-based, and by monitoring participant performance data to proactively address any issues. We're mitigating concerns around access to technology by collecting robust data from applicants to keep an eye on the scope of this challenge among our participants, and by offering laptops and internet hotspots to participants who don't have them - made possible through generous funding partners.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
Generation USA is on a path toward a rapid scale-up of our technology training programs, with an ultimate goal of training 500,000 individuals for technology career paths by the end of 2030. In 2021, we are on track to deliver Generation's technology training programs to 5,000 individuals. In 2022, we intend to serve 15,000 individuals. In our current targets, we aim to serve 60,000 individuals in 2026.
What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and -- importantly -- how will you achieve them?
Within the next year, Generation expects to have programs launched in 20 cities across the US, and will have enrolled 15,000 individuals in our new online-first model.
By the end of 2026, our goal is to have programs running in partnership with up to 100 community colleges across the US, and anticipate serving an annual volume of 60,000 individuals.
Throughout this rapid growth process, we will be closely watching participant data to ensure that we continue to provide strong outcomes for our participants. Embedded within our scaling goals, we aim to continuously meet key participant outcome KPIs, listed in the following question.
How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?
Generation tracks progress and measures impact for individuals, employer partners, and society at large.
For individuals, we collect robust data at baseline and for at least 1 year following graduation to assess outcomes. KPIs we track to assess impact for learners include:
- 85% graduation rate
- Income uplift of at least 2x within the first year post-graduation
- 80% placed into paid internships, apprenticeships, full-time employment or into continuing education within 90 days of graduation
For employers, we utilize a survey firm called BeyondFeedback to gather feedback from direct managers of our alumni on their performance on the job. A core KPI for employers that lets us know that we're providing learners the right skills to deliver business value to our employer partners is:
- 80% of managers say Generation alumni outperform their non-Generation peers
As we think about impact on systems and society at large, we think about reaching a scale that will allow us to create change in the systems that contain or magnify barriers to accessing careers in the tech space for our learners.
- Number of community college partners: at a 2030 horizon, we aim to partner with 10% of the nation's community colleges (150 colleges)
- Number of employer partners
What type of organization is your solution team?
How many people work on your solution team?
Generation's team consists of 123 full-time staff. Our programs are also implemented by instructional staff (instructors and teaching assistants) employed by our community college partners.
How long have you been working on your solution?
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Generation's diverse team is uniquely positioned to deliver this solution, including our career and life coaches with counseling and social work backgrounds that prepare them to partner and communicate well with those we serve to our McKinsey Fellows who bring their distinctive problem solving and business management skills to ensure that Generation is rigorously tracking and analyzing data. The team is rapidly growing to meet the demands of our scaling strategy; we expect to add another 30+ members before the end of 2021.
With 18+ years of experience in the education and nonprofit sector, and a master’s degree in Education and Human Development, Sean Segal, Generation USA CEO, joined the organization in November 2017. Most relevant are his eight years at Urban Alliance where he led operations, finance, and evaluation, and built a national organization.
With 20 years of experience in education and youth development, Tameka Logan, U.S. Program Lead, is leading all Generation USA programming. Most relevant is her 12 years at Urban Alliance where she led program operations and created systems, policies, and procedures for program delivery to ensure UA’s youth received the most effective interventions.
With 15 years of business development experience and 12 years in the nonprofit sector, Sienna Daniel, U.S. Partnerships Lead, is leading all business development activities in the U.S. Most relevant is her seven years at After-School All-Stars, where she expanded programming statewide; increasing the number of participants served from 50 to 800, and securing over $9M in local and national funds.
What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?
Advancing equity and breaking down systemic racism and discrimination is core to Generation USA’s mission and culture. We demonstrate this commitment through the programmatic choices we make and internally by building a diverse and inclusive team. Specifically, we are addressing racial equity in the following ways:
1) It is one of our core beliefs to build an organization that mirrors the population we serve. Our executive leadership team identifies as 89% women and 67% BIPOC. Across all staff, 74% identify as women and 70% BIPOC. Staff are geographically dispersed across 23 states and Puerto Rico.
2) We have established an Equity Committee to formalize our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) commitment, and recently hired an experienced Equity Director to guide our efforts to integrate and elevate principles of equity, belonging, justice, and diversity across all our organization. Led by our Equity Director, Generation is embarking on an EDI audit over the next 6 months, with the goal of developing an informed, tailored roadmap to increasing equity across the organization.
3) Generation recently hired our first Learner Ombuds to serve as a leadership voice to ensure all Generation learners are treated in alignment with the organization’s core values, have an outlet for complaints or concerns, and are treated equitably regardless of gender, race, sexual preference, religion, or other factors. In addition, one of the Learner Ombuds' core responsibilities will be policy, analysis and feedback that will ensure the organization is continually evaluating our work with an equity lens.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
Why are you applying to the 2021 Digital Workforce Challenge?
Generation USA is applying to this Challenge primarily for the opportunity to share our approach with others working toward similar goals with the hope of fostering new partnerships and receiving helpful feedback.
We have extremely ambitious scaling goals, and as we grow, we need support in streamlining and automating processes and workflows. We believe that a partnership with ServiceNow could be a gamechanger in helping us to maintain our lean team and strong outcomes while expanding our programs over the next several years.
Additionally, if we were awarded funding through this challenge, it would allow us to test solutions to some of the limiters on our growth, such as implementing AI to help streamline and personalize our application process for learners.
The success of our ambitious scaling goals relies on building strong partnership networks and on being able to reach and recruit participants who may be disconnected from both education and employment systems. The connections and expertise of the Challenge partners could be invaluable in helping us to address these barriers.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please provide an overview of your current activities in those locations.
Generation is currently offering technology training programs across 18 cities in the US. Current program offerings include:
- Jr. Cloud Practitioner
- Jr. Web Developer
- Jr. Full Stack Java Developer
- IT Support Specialist
- Digital Marketing Analyst
Before the end of 2021, we also plan to launch programs in Cybersecurity and Data Analysis.
Please explain in more detail here.
This problem is too large for any single organization to solve alone.
Generation USA engages a range of organizations with complementary and competitive capabilities as we seek to create system change and to achieve our vision of a meaningful career and sustained well-being for every person anywhere in the world. Our most vital collaborators in this work are community colleges, many of which have existing vocational training programs. Despite a potential for competition, collaboration with Generation provides community college partners with a rapid, affordable training option paired with recruiting expertise that helps them attract students they may not otherwise have been able to access. Generation also helps community colleges overcome one of their biggest struggles - building relationships with employer partners to ensure strong job placement outcomes.
In addition, we're actively seeking and building partnerships with complementary programs that can improve services for our learners or help connect us to potential learners. For example, we're exploring a partnership with an organization that provides opportunities for individuals to work on real-world tech projects while they're learning.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
Our program model is, at its core, driven by partnership. Our vision for achieving scale across the US and having a truly transformative effect on existing education to employment systems can only become a reality through collaborative effort across a range of different organization types. We seek to build partnerships with:
- Tech-focused organizations or services that are complimentary to Generation programs.
- Community colleges: Our primary path to scale is to embed our methodology within community colleges to implement the programs. These partnerships allow us to support a much larger scale of participants and provides a new avenue for community colleges to attract students and employers.
- Employers: Our program is not just about training, but about supporting participants into careers. This requires partnership and commitment from employers to interview and hire our graduates. We diligently measure data to demonstrate employer ROI, and design our curriculum to ensure graduates have the specific skills needed to succeed in targeted roles from day one on the job.
- Community organizations: Our participants face a myriad of barriers and life challenges that training alone does not solve. In addition to community sessions and access to life coaches, we rely on coalitions of community organizations providing a range of services participants need to thrive during and after the program, including access to food, transportation, and childcare.