Opportunity Engines

This program was previously operated by Schmidt Futures. Historic Schmidt Futures activities were funded by diverse types of charitable and non-charitable capital to achieve impact.


About Opportunity Engines

Opportunity Engines (OE) mobilized talent with innovative uses of technology to help job-training initiatives that place workers into family-sustaining jobs. A key initiative of Opportunity Engines was the Workforce Training Accelerator, which supported grantees in the development of innovative, replicable, and technical products to expand the scale of workforce training initiatives. Opportunity Engines aimed to generate $150M in aggregate wage gains for over 25,000 low-income job seekers. The program also convened a task force of grantee CEOs to recommend ways the policy and philanthropy communities can better support innovation and efficacy in launching careers for non-college-educated talent.


Learn more about the workforce development organizations that participated in OE’s Workforce Training Accelerator below.

Task Force Report

The CEOs of the organizations in the Workforce Training Accelerator also worked together as a task force to generate ground level recommendations for how public policy and philanthropy can better drive innovation in the field. You can find the report they produced here, as well as an executive summary here.

Members of the Workforce Training Accelerator

Accelerate America

Accelerate America is an innovative partnership between Chicago’s National Louis University and workforce training nonprofit Propel America. Accelerate offers a first-of-its-kind, affordable, flexible pathway to an immediate in-demand job as a Medical Assistant and credit toward a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution. The pathway offers young adults the opportunity to start a living-wage job, gain college credit that can be applied toward future degrees, and receive career training, coaching, and support that equips them with the skills to be successful in their job, with a plan for ongoing education and career advancement.

Project Summary: Accelerate America is working to  further refine their model and to build out tech tools that will enhance its growth.  With Schmidt Futures support, Accelerate America aims to prove that its collaboration can create a new hybrid jobs-first higher education paradigm melding the best of high-ROI, short-term workforce training with the infrastructure and per-student financing of traditional higher education. The hope is that the resulting model could expand within National Louis University and beyond to be replicated at other campuses.

Climb Hire

Climb Hire prepares diverse and determined working adults for entry-level jobs in tech, sales, financial services, and other corporate positions. The organization knows that breaking into a new career is hard, especially for individuals who may have lacked the opportunity to develop their work experiences or social capital. People get jobs through networks, relationships, and skills. Climb Hire’s curriculum blends technical and soft-skills training with a community of peers that provide emotional support, in addition to an expanded ecosystem that leads to job opportunities and career advancement.

Project Summary: With Schmidt Futures support, the organization will research, pilot, and operationalize a platform to foster interactions between current Climbers and the alumni community that generate job referrals and mentorship. This approach aims to augment low-income trainees’ social capital (building upon research regarding the importance thereof) and to sustainably enhance job placement rates.

Craft Education System

Craft envisions a world where merit and effort– not money or connections– pave a person’s path to economic stability. The organization makes this possible as the data layer for “apprenticeship degrees,” a revolutionary new pathway in which entry-level jobs become paid apprenticeships that culminate in a college degree, as well as a promotion into a skilled, stable profession (eg, classroom aides become teachers, nursing assistants become registered nurses). Craft automates all necessary data collection, reporting, and analytics required for employers to turn their on-the-job training into these accredited degrees and apprenticeship pathways.

Project Summary: In the Accelerator, Craft Education System will 1) build the functionality that allows employers and universities to match with each other on the Craft platform to offer apprenticeships and apprenticeship degrees; and 2) provide universities with the technical assistance they need to be able to offer apprenticeship training and use the platform.


NPower’s mission is to create pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. The organization envisions a future where our U.S. technology workforce is diverse, and clear pathways exist for all people regardless of ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background to succeed in our digital economy.


As a national leader in metrics-driven tech training, NPower serves under-resourced, low-income young adults (ages 18 ̶ 26) and military-connected individuals through our signature free Tech Fundamentals and advanced Cybersecurity and Cloud training programs in 7 states across the U.S. – CA, MD, MI, MO, NJ, NY, and TX. All trainees are unemployed or underemployed, 85%+ are BIPOC, and over 80% of NPower trainees do not have a four-year college degree.

Project Summary: NPower will customize a Learning Management System (LMS) to augment its recruitment and assessment processes and create on-and-off-ramps at different points in its tech training. The platform will enable NPower to place potential students into different stages of its tech training based on their technical skills. As a result, NPower will be able to prepare more low-income individuals for tech jobs than it can in its more rigid current model.

Upwardly Global

Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for immigrant and refugee professionals, and advance the inclusion of their skills into the U.S. economy. Since 2000, the organization  has empowered newcomers with the skills, coaching, and social capital needed to rebuild their lives and careers in the U.S. Today, UG serves nearly 2,000 job seekers each year through a direct service program, supporting attainment of professional employment across in-demand industries including tech, healthcare, and finance. UG clients (80% BIPOC; 50% women) earn an average starting salary of nearly $68,000 – a “thriving wage” that represents an average income increase of $60,000+. Through UG’s Jobversity initiative, the organization scales proven interventions and offers capacity-building to resettlement agencies, government institutions, CBOs, and community colleges.

Project Summary: Upwardly Global will customize an AI-powered tool that reviews job seekers’ resumes, maps their skills to potential career pathways, and connects job seekers to additional training that will enhance their employability and accelerate their desired employment outcome. This innovative application of intuitive AI will reduce barriers to skill-aligned employment and economic inclusion commonly faced by immigrant and refugee job seekers, while enabling scalability of the intervention.

Vehicles for Change

Vehicles for Change Inc. (VFC) empowers families with financial challenges to achieve economic and personal independence through car ownership and technical training. VFC repairs and provides donated cars to low-income families to gain access to employment, child care, doctor’s appointments, etc. In preparing the cars for the families, VPC trains and places individuals with multiple barriers to employment, most with a criminal background, to be auto mechanics.

Project Summary: Vehicles for Change, will build, pilot, and scale a Virtual Reality Training (VRT) Module that will enable delivery of its entry-level courses to more trainees, as well as broaden the funnel of qualified trainees into its advanced auto mechanic training program.