SAN DIEGO–The San Diego Workforce Partnership was named as a winner of a philanthropic funding contest by national nonprofit Strada Education Network.
The Workforce Partnership was awarded $1.2M to increase access and diversity in tech through income share agreements (ISAs), a student loan alternative by which a student agrees to pay a small proportion of their income for a set period of time.
The Workforce Partnership will use its grant to stand up the Workforce ISA Fund, which will offer individuals from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in tech an opportunity to enter one of UC San Diego Extension’s distinguished certificate programs in areas such as front-end web development, Java programming, business intelligence or digital marketing. The workforce development board and public education institution will be among the first in the country to offer ISAs.
“With this investment, we are able to provide a new way for people to access opportunity and for businesses to find talent,” said Andy Hall, Workforce Partnership COO. “This project will provide access to the skills, opportunities and networks needed for people to break in to San Diego’s booming innovation economy. And then, when people are successful after the program, they will ‘pay it forward’ with a small percentage of their income for the students coming behind them, giving the project the ability to sustain itself long after the initial grant ends.”
“These anchor funds for our ISA partnership will expand the reach of the university and lower the barrier to underrepresented individuals in the tech sector,” said Dr. Josh Shapiro, UC San Diego Extension Assistant Dean of Research Affairs. “By shifting the financial risk away from students, this innovative partnership will provide equal opportunity and access to world-class education, while optimizing the university’s interest in student outcomes. This initiative embodies Extension’s mission to be a catalyst for inclusive economic, intellectual and cultural growth.”
According to recent data from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey, individuals who view their educational experience as relevant to the world of work are far more likely to complete their education and report that their learning was worth the cost. Employers also indicate that they prefer to hire people who gain practical work experience as they study.
The Workforce Partnership was selected from hundreds of applicants in the “innovative solutions in education-to-employment” competition Strada Education Network announced in 2018, which prioritized investment in working adults required to upskill as the labor market shifts and “disconnected youth,” aged 18 to 24 years old, who are neither working nor in school.
“No one sector can close skill and equity gaps alone. All of the recipients share our commitment to engaging with an ecosystem of educators, community organizations and employers to help individuals bridge the divide between education and economic opportunity,” said William D. Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network. “We’re excited to support the San Diego Workforce Partnership. They’re listening to education consumers as well as employers, and designing solutions that are relevant to the real-world challenges—and opportunities—today’s students face.”