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Breaking Barriers to Work for Chronically Jobless Americans

4 min read

We’re thrilled to share our latest investment announcement during National Poverty Awareness Month. We’re committing $3.55 million to eight Catalysts in our Workforce Development portfolio to expand their efforts to help vulnerable individuals get and keep a steady job.

Even though the job market has exploded over the past year, 60 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their bank account for emergencies and more than one million Americans struggle with frequent unemployment. The following organizations are doing incredible work to empower individuals from a variety of backgrounds and in a variety of areas to gain the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.

Check out what our partners are doing:


Homelessness is a horrible reality to contend with – but how do you find a home if you don’t have a job? Chrysalis’s answer is simple: it helps those struggling with homelessness and low-income individuals in L.A. find a job and take that first step towards stability. Through a variety of employment services, it equips applicants with the skills they need and enables them not merely to find a job, but to build a new life from it.

Per Scholas

According to Code.org, there are nearly 500,000 open computing jobs across the nation – but less than 50,000 computer science graduates joined the workforce last year. The need is great, and Per Scholas aims to fill it. It selects unemployed and underemployed adults for its programs, all of which are designed around the IT needs of specific companies. Once participants graduate from the program, 80 percent go on to earn jobs – jobs that, on average, pay four times as much as participants earned prior to joining Per Scholas.


Located in Chicago, Cara works to break the cycle of joblessness by identifying individuals in poverty and training them for success in the workforce. Through programs that develop professional and socio-emotional skills and transitional job opportunities, the organization prepares individuals for long-time employment with competitive companies offering quality jobs. Ultimately, Cara seeks to shape the whole person, emphasizing self-esteem, perseverance and accountability.


NPower seeks to close the skills gap by serving two underserved populations: young adults from low-income and/or disenfranchised communities and military veterans and families. By providing a variety of free courses in technical training, the organization not only sets these individuals on the path to long-term success and security, but also increases diversity in the tech workforce at large.

WorkFaith Connection

Just as its name implies, WorkFaith Connection harnesses the power of faith to connect jobless individuals in Houston with work. An eight-day intensive workshop gives participants the skills they need to run a successful, targeted job search and encourages them in their faith during the process. The vast majority – 78 percent – find employment after completing the workshop.

Women’s Bean Project

Women’s Bean Project is a social enterprise that seeks to empower unemployed women to live fulfilling, satisfying lives – all through the power of food. The program teaches women to cook nourishing food, sold in major grocery stores and via major online retailers. During the program, it provides critical support – such as childcare, mentoring and transportation – to participants, and after the program, helps place them in jobs. An astounding 93 percent of program graduates are employed a year after the program ends.

i.c. stars

i.c. stars seeks out talent that has the power to light up the future. It selects and trains a group of young adults in the Chicago area from low-income backgrounds, providing them with the technology and leadership skills they need to make a mark at some of America’s largest corporations. After gaining 1,000 hours of work experience during the two-year program, many go on to work at major companies like Grainger, Blue Cross Blue Shield and PepsiCo.

Orion Industries

Orion helps individuals surmount barriers to employment, empowering them to find and retain jobs. Using a social enterprise model, it offers program participants internship and mentorship opportunities in its contact center and aerospace engineering divisions. After completing their internships, participants are supported through job placement and retention services. Eighty-four percent of individuals who participate in the program remain employed a year after finishing.

These are just a few of the 100-plus organizations Stand Together Foundation partners with to transform lives and communities around the country. We’ll keep sharing more of our Catalysts’ stories with you this month as we announce more investment decisions –sign up for updates here to stay in the loop, and join the National Poverty Awareness Conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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