“Billion Dollar Bets” to Establish Pathways to Careers Creating Economic Opportunity for Every American

This brief from Bridgespan Group, part of a series exploring high-return opportunities for investing philanthropic dollars, examines how high-quality career pathways can create economic opportunity for low-income individuals. This report identifies the return on investment for different philanthropic initiatives, estimating a return of $7.3 to $14.7 billion for a $1 billion initial investment. While a helpful introduction for the philanthropic community, this paper can also serve policymakers by providing easy casemaking data and identifying opportunities for high-return investments in career pathways.

The four areas of investment covered in this brief include:

  • Supporting national understanding of evolving job market needs and the skills these opportunities require of individuals, with a commitment from employers to hire based on these skills;
  • Ensuring that low-income job seekers have the information and support they need to identify the best path to a career that matches their skills and interests and has the potential to provide a family-sustaining income;
  • Creating increased market pressures on traditional postsecondary institutions by investing in alternative, competency-based programs that target low-income populations through innovation grants, seed funding, and scaling grants; and
  • Advocating for federal and state funding to support competency-based programs.
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August 2016