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Innovating to Close the Employment Opportunity Gap

Innovating to Close the Employment Opportunity Gap

At the Close It Summit in Chicago this week, a panel of leading employment tech funders and thinkers announced the launch of the Employment Technology Fund (ETF), an innovative impact investing initiative of the New Venture Fund (NVF) supported by an Arabella team.

Building on critical early inputs and funding from four leading foundations–The Joyce Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Walmart Foundation–ETF seeks to close the employment opportunity gap now affecting some 103 million low-income adults in the United States. It aims “to invest in high impact, scalable technology solutions that help individuals find a path to employment and improve their earnings potential, careers, and livelihoods.” Such solutions may be related to learning and training, mentoring and support, assessment and matching, or job search and placement.

Thanks to an innovative approach and NVF funding vehicle, ETF is exploring investments in both early-stage companies and nonprofits, focusing first on the solutions potential partners can provide rather than the sectors from which they come. In conjunction with the Close It Summit session, ETF has already announced its first two investments. One went to Cell-Ed, “a mobile-first leader in training and engaging frontline workers,” and the other went to NorthStar, “an online, self-guided digital literacy assessment widely used in Adult Basic Education, junior colleges, community-based nonprofits, libraries, and workforce centers.”

Interested readers can learn much more about ETF from this white paper by Tyton Partners, which “describes the history of the Fund and the groundbreaking collaboration among the four foundations and NVF, its structure and operations, and the investment criteria and process for making investments.”

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