Boston – July 30, 2019 – National nonprofit JFF, today, announced a multi-million dollar commitment to employment technology through the acquisition of the Employment Technology Fund (ETF), a social impact fund focused on the application of technology to close skills gaps and improve economic mobility for low-income workers. The Fund will be housed within JFF Labs, a nonprofit innovation lab that designs and scales new approaches to promoting economic advancement. The new fund will be known as ETF@JFFLabs.
“The ability to direct capital to the most innovative approaches to meeting workforce needs is an important evolution in JFF’s work,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF. “It reflects our growing commitment to use all available tools and work with all compatible partners to unlock the potential of the 75 million Americans who are being left behind as technology transforms nearly every aspect of our modern labor market.”
ETF@JFF Labs will make early stage investments into mission aligned startups, drawing on JFF’s extensive sectoral knowledge and networks to source deals, raise capital and provide value to the companies.
To date, the Employment Technology Fund has made a total of seven investments, including Cell-Ed, winner of JFF’ $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge, a pioneer in mobile learning which delivers language, literacy and upskilling programs via cell phone (with, or without internet); SkillSmart, which draws upon powerful analytics to match individuals on public assistance to draw upon their existing skills to high paying jobs; CareAcademy, an MIT Inclusive Innovation award winner, which upskills domestic caregivers to fill in-demand home health roles.
More than half of ETF@JFFLabs’ current portfolio companies were launched with female founders, compared to 7 percent of companies who have received venture funding, and 60 percent with founders of color.
“The JFF team’s experience working at the intersection of the traditional workforce systems and innovative programs will provide ETF@JFF Labs with a deep bench of expertise to inform our investment strategy and work with our portfolio companies,” said Yigal Kerszenbaum, founder and managing director of ETF, who will join JFF Labs as Managing Director for Innovative Finance, overseeing the organization’s investment strategy. “We are energized to be a part of JFF’s incredible platform. JFF will not only bring expertise and capacity to our portfolio companies, they will send a powerful signal to employers, educators, philanthropic funders — and other investors — about where the opportunities are, and what’s really working.”
“Today’s rapidly changing labor market demands new approaches to training and upskilling that create faster, cheaper pathways to good jobs,” said Ryan Craig, Managing Director at University Ventures. “ETF is seeding investments in companies that have the potential to tackle this challenge head-on – in ways that can help close persistent skill and talent gaps. They’ve found a great strategic partner in the team at JFF Labs.”
About JFF: JFF is a national nonprofit working to drive transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For 35 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. Join us as we build a future that works. www.jff.org