Cognizant U.S. Foundation Awards $500,000 to Opportunity@Work to Launch New Initiative to Expand Career Access for Workers in the United States

Grant Will Fund New Research to Transform the Way Companies Hire Talent, Unlock Job Opportunities for the 70 Million Workers Without College Degrees

The Cognizant U.S. Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that individuals without a bachelor’s degree can work, learn, and earn to their full potential. The grant will support research designed to map labor market supply and demand, skills, and career opportunities across the US The funds will also help bolster Opportunity@Work’s efforts to catalyze employers and workforce development organizations to drive inclusive hiring practices and support new on-ramps to employment.

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According to Opportunity@Work’s “STARs Insights Initiative” original research, as many as 70 million workers without four-year college degrees are estimated to be overlooked for middle-wage jobs, despite having employable skills. Opportunity@Work identifies these workers as Skilled Through Alternative Routes, or “STARs.” Beginning in March 2020, Opportunity@Work will be releasing a series of research studies on the state of STARs in the United States labor market and will convene employers, workforce development organizations, and thought leaders to redefine career pathways and unlock opportunity for workers in America. In the next decade, Opportunity@Work aims to expand opportunities for upward mobility to at least 1 million STARs, helping to set the agenda for inclusive hiring practices and drive change through research, data, and employer mobilization efforts nationwide.

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“Opportunity@Work has identified one of the greatest untapped resources in communities across the country. Their work is inspiring employers to realize the potential of candidates from nontraditional backgrounds,” said Kristen Titus, Executive Director, Cognizant U.S. Foundation. “We are pleased to provide support for Opportunity@Work’s efforts in unlocking the potential of millions of Americans, and aiding employers in identifying, cultivating, and hiring nontraditional talent.”

“We envision a future in which employers hire people based on their skills rather than their pedigree, so that STARs can work, learn and earn to their full potential,” said Byron Auguste, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Opportunity@Work. “We want to ignite a movement that expands access to middle-wage jobs, begins to reverse the decline in real wages, and ultimately restores the American Dream for STARs in the United States. We’re delighted that the Cognizant U.S. Foundation shares this mission and are grateful for its commitment and support.”

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