Under a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Social Capital Builders– a Black-owned social enterprise based in Columbia, Maryland – and the SkillUp Coalition are combining forces to advance economic mobility for adult job seekers across the United States.
This innovative pilot seeks to help low-wage adult job seekers build much-needed social capital through training and coaching over 24 weeks. These adults have job skills and a desire to work but lack social capital, critical relationships, and opportunities to form them.
A growing body of data points to social capital’s pivotal role in long-term labor market success and economic mobility. Research from Opportunity Insights, a center at Harvard University, found a strong correlation between social capital as measured by economic connectedness across class lines, even more than household income and educational outcomes. However, despite overwhelming evidence supporting the efficacy of social capital, there have been very few strategic, concerted efforts to bring social capital literacy and development efforts to youth and adults in the workforce and educational systems until now.
Social Capital Builders is a social enterprise specializing in social capital education, analysis, and development. Edward DeJesus founded Social Capital Builders four years ago to bring awareness of this overlooked asset to youth workforce programs and has now expanded it to adults, entrepreneurs, and returning citizens.
“Without social capital education and coaching, the critical workforce success ingredient is missing, states DeJesus. DeJesus is a resident member and program facilitator of the Maryland Innovation Center (MIC). The resident membership is the MIC’s onsite business incubation program, housing nearly 30 startups from various industries with customized mentorship, collaboration, and the support of MIC’s vast network of partners and entrepreneurs.
“The Maryland Innovation Center (MIC) is proud to host Social Capital Builders,” shares Chuck Bubeck, Executive Director of the MIC. “During his time with the MIC, CEO & Founder Edward DeJesus has led multiple cohorts of entrepreneurs and community members to assess their social capital and pursue critical relationships for their workforce development. We will continue to support Edward and Social Capital Builders as the SkillUp Coalition takes flight.”
Each participant in the Social Capital Builders pilot will receive four weeks of social capital literacy training and 15 weeks of social capital building coaching and support. Through this partnership and the data and lessons learned, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is setting the stage to use social capital’s power to usher millions of disenfranchised job seekers to previously unavailable economic opportunities.
“Let’s be honest. Rather than “know-how,” the reality is that it’s “know-who” that often makes all the difference. SkillUp is thrilled to partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Social Capital Builders to offer the “know-who.” SkillUp is committed to guiding and supporting workers towards quality, living-wage careers that do not require a degree,” shares Steve Lee, Executive Director of SkillUp. “We understand limited social capital can hinder both career exploration and advancement opportunities. In piloting these services for our SkillUp users, we aim to remove yet another barrier to high-opportunity employment.”
About Social Capital Builders: Social Capital Builders, Inc. (SCB) is a Black-owned and operated social enterprise whose mission is to raise the social capital literacy and connections of 1 million youth and adults by 2025. SCB is focused on using the power of social capital literacy, analysis, and development to advance youth and families; lifelong economic and social well-being. SCB is dedicated to serving all communities, especially those severely impacted by racism, systemic inequities, and years of under and misrepresentation.
About SkillUp Coalition: Founded in July 2020, SkillUp Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects workers with the right tools, resources, and support to make confident career shifts, find quality living-wage jobs, and position themselves for promising career growth. Since its founding, SkillUp has connected 1.2 Million workers to career, training, and job support throughout the country. SkillUp proudly advocates for an affordable, equitable, upskilling ecosystem that ensures every worker has high-opportunity employment. Please visit http://www.skillup.org or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn for more information.