One-line solution summary:
Generation USA transforms education to employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into sustainable career pathways.
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.
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 will disproportionately hurt young workers at the very start of their careers. The individuals we serve were already facing barriers to employment in the robust 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.
While many industries are laying off employees in record numbers, a handful, including IT and healthcare, 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.
Generation USA 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.
Generation USA programs are built on a proven 7-step methodology that holistically 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).
Our delivery model is built for scale, and we have developed a plan to expand to serve an annual volume of 60,000 learners by 2030, for a cumulative reach of 500,000 participants over 10 years. To achieve the scale necessary to meet the unprecedented level of need for reskilling and placement in sustainable careers created by COVID-19, we are focused on growing our Program Delivery Partner (PDP) model, embedding our methodology in regional coalitions of community colleges and innovating to deliver programming fully online.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Generation predominantly serves unemployed and underemployed people who are disconnected from the labor market and have struggled to find financial security. Of our learners to date, 60% are female and more than 85% are Black or Latinx. 41% have dependents (children or family members). Most are urban, although we also serve suburban and rural learners. On average, participants enter the program earning $512 from government benefits or part-time work.
In the context of COVID-19 recovery, Generation USA has identified three distinct populations in need of our support:
1. Those recently laid off with little prospect of re-employment. These learners will most likely be able to achieve employment once they’ve completed Generation as they have prior experience in the workforce and are most likely looking to transition to a new field.
2. Unemployed or underemployed learners looking to change careers. We anticipate a portion of these learners will use Generation as a springboard to continuing post-secondary education, completing a BS or AA in Computer Science while rejoining the workforce.
3. Generation’s traditional learners -- Opportunity Youth, 18 to 29 years old and disconnected from the workforce/education sectors, or those reentering the workforce. These populations, supported fully, are proven to benefit from Generation programs.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?
Increase access to high-quality, affordable learning, skill-building, and training opportunities for those entering the workforce, transitioning between jobs, or facing unemployment
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge and your selected dimension.
Generation USA was founded on research that surfaced many of the issues with existing education to employment systems that the Challenge seeks to address. Seeing the ways the events of 2020 have amplified these issues, we have demonstrated the nimbleness of our model by rapidly re-aligning to the most promising industries in the post-COVID economy. 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
In which US state(s) will you be operating within the next year?
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
Who is the team lead for your solution?
Sean Segal, CEO
How many people work on your solution team?
Generation USA is now made up of 105 full-time staff, and is rapidly growing as we scale across the country. Additionally, community college partners will hire instructors and teaching assistants to implement the Generation programs beginning in late 2020.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization?
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.
It is one of our core beliefs to build an organization that mirrors the population we serve. As such, the diversity of our team is reflected in our staff composition: 55% are Black (61% program participants); 3% are Asian (7% program participants); 15% are Hispanic/Latinx (17% program participants); 24% are Caucasian (7% program participants) and; 3% Multi-racial. Additionally, we are in the process of establishing an equity committee led by a full time role to formalize our commitment to integrating and elevating principles of equity, belonging, justice, and diversity across all our operations and programs.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new business model or process
Describe 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.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many people did your solution serve in 2019? 2018? 2017?
In 2020 to date, we have served 489 individuals, and are on track to enroll an additional 750+ by year-end. In 2019, we served 1,114; in 2018, we served 852; and in 2017, we served 736 individuals.
What percent of the people you served in 2019 were between the age of 15 and 30?
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Within the next year, Generation expects to have programs launched in 10 cities across the US, and will have enrolled 7,000 individuals in our new online-first model.
By the end of 2025, our goal is to have programs running in partnership with up to 75 community colleges across the US, and anticipate serving an annual volume of 45,000 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.
What type of organization is your solution team?
How many people are on your leadership team? (Of these, please provide the number of individuals from your leadership team that are full time, part time, and volunteer)
Our senior leadership team consists of 9 full time staff.
In what year was your organization founded? How many years have you worked on your solution?
Generation USA was founded in 2015. We have spent the past 5 years implementing our methodology while experimenting with different delivery models and barriers to scale.
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Generation's diverse team is uniquely positioned to deliver this solution, from our career and life coaches who have backgrounds in counseling and social work 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 and our high-performing leadership team, many of whom have 10+ years of experience working together to scale the high-impact youth employment nonprofit Urban Alliance.
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 organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
Generation partners with a wide range of organizations. We're currently partnered with 7 community colleges across the US, and are in partnership conversations with an additional 6. We embed our methodology within community colleges, providing funding, instructor feedback and support, our curriculum, and direct student support. Community colleges hire instructional staff and participate in recruiting students to the program.
Generation also partners with employers and staffing agencies which commit to interviewing and/or hiring our graduates into paid internships, apprenticeships, or full-time roles. Partners include Belle Fleur Technologies, Concentrix, Parker Dewey, Brooksource Eight Eleven Group, and CareerCircle. These partnerships are critical to ensuring participants of all backgrounds and previous IT experience have an opportunity for IT employment and a pathway to continued skills building and career growth.
Finally, a critical partner is Verizon, which has provided the catalytic funding needed to launch our scaling strategy, along with providing thought partnership and committing to hire some of our program graduates.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?
Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Generation envisions future financial sustainability as coming from balanced public, private and philanthropic revenue sources and seeks to maximize these streams to launch training in other promising, high-growth sectors.
A key area for revenue growth will be employer reimbursements for hired graduates. Though programming is currently funded primarily through philanthropy, Generation seeks in the future to convert certain employer placement partnerships to pay for hire relationships where participant training tuition is reimbursed incrementally upon the completion of employment milestones (i.e. successful hiring, 90 day retention, 180 day retention) while also engaging the local philanthropic community to further diversify funding streams.
What are your estimated expenses for 2021?
Generation USA's projected budget for 2021 is $17.2 million.
Why are you applying to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US 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.
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 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 see local workforce development boards as critical to building truly sustainable regional workforce coalitions that drive meaningful change.
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:
- 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.
- Local and State Workforce Development Boards: Working closely with WDBs would facilitate the system-wide impact we aim to achieve, as they are connected to policy, industry, and the needs of workers.
- 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.