Must Read Blog January 30, 2023

Impact Players Catalyzing Systems Change

At this time last year, I was looking forward with great anticipation to the role that catalytic capital could play in changing the “way we educate” and “the way we work.” As it became abundantly clear post-pandemic, our education and learn-to-work systems are broken, not designed for our “brave new world,” and are leaving many behind. Reflecting on 2022, there are bright spots where impact players are collaborating to effect systems change at-scale, using innovative models and breakthrough ideas.  

The Future of Work

One approach which bears watching is the Google Career Certificates Fund – a collaboration between Social Finance, Google and inaugural training providers Merit America and Year Up – which both provide job-ready training skills and a system of supports so learners can earn a Google Career Certificate. The goal is to place individuals from underserved communities into well-paying, high-growth jobs in data analytics, digital marketing, IT support, and user experience design, among others. This unique, evergreen, funding structure is specifically designed to scale, and shares the repayment risk with the learner based on job attainment and earnings. While the fund currently stands at $100M and expects to empower more than 20,000 workers with $1bn of wage gains over next decade, it has the potential to become even larger and possibly catalyze many look-alike funds.

Transforming K-12

Another example is A-Street, a novel investment fund backed by parallimpact capital, focused on transforming K-12. With explicit criteria to invest in “coherent, differentially effective, and equitable solutions to transform K-12 learning,” it has set a high bar and has rapidly assembled a portfolio of potential changemakers in K-12, and is actively seeking others that can “make a difference” through its experienced staff and patient time horizon. With investments in early childhood, math, and online tutoring, among other areas, A-Street aims to focus on things that work for teachers and students, and rapidly scale highly effective programs – a task that has often been challenging in a selling environment which has long been dominated by traditional publishers and state curriculum adoptions. In the post-pandemic world, online learning has now been legitimized and new methods are needed to combat learning loss and reach students in a more personalized way.

These two very different approaches – one a philanthropic fund with below market returns, representing a collaboration of impact players in future of work; and the second, a more market-oriented fund that has reshaped its goals and aspirations to drive outcomes along with financial returns – give me hope that progress is being made, and these efforts will catalyze others this coming year and beyond. At Tyton Partners, we are actively engaged in supporting the changemakers in both future of work and K-12 systems change, and I will watch with great anticipation for further strides in 2023.