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Navigating Crises by Investing in What Works

July 8, 2021

At a Glance

ETF@JFFLabs’ new Impact Report details why our mission to increase economic advancement for all is more pressing than ever.

Jazmine da Costa
Yigal Kerszenbaum Managing Partner
Practices & Centers

2020 was a time of unprecedented insecurity and socioeconomic suffering across the globe. COVID-19 shined a light on the deficiencies in our labor market, forcing us to further examine and reimagine our education and workforce systems.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 45 million jobs were lost in the first six months of the pandemic, many of them frontline and essential roles that are disproportionately held by women, people of color, and recent immigrants. The effects of the pandemic have been further compounded by systemic racism and violence. Higher rates of illness and death in communities of color are tied directly to job insecurity. Overall, the pandemic has revealed our collective failure to acknowledge and address the structural problems that have consistently left millions behind.

The Employment Technology Fund, also known as ETF@JFFLabs (ETF), was launched in 2017 to fund early-stage technology companies that create opportunities and pathways to quality jobs for low- and middle-income adults living in the United States.

Now, four years into the fund creation, our mission to increase economic advancement for all is more pressing than ever. We believe creating equitable economic recovery in the wake of these catastrophes requires acknowledging that the current approach does not work for the most vulnerable populations. As a result, ETF is increasing its efforts to serve people, particularly those who historically have been the most underserved.

This past year, ETF deepened our efforts to leverage JFF’s networks, expertise, infrastructure, and scale to support the growth and development of our portfolio companies. Those efforts included, but were not limited to, the following steps:

  1. We connected our companies with new growth opportunities across JFF
  2. We helped retool go-to-market strategies to meet COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing guidelines
  3. We launched pilots with Fortune 300 corporations

Our portfolios have served millions of workers and learners during this time of high need.

As ETF prepares for the next year and beyond, we anticipate a sustained need for investment in education and economic and workforce development. ETF is playing, and will continue to play, a leading role in maximizing impact, rigor, and investment in companies that serve underserved workers and learners. We invite funds and investors new to this space to amplify our collective impact through coinvestment, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.

To shine on light on the impact that the fund has led over the past year, we’ve released our annual report that details the progress of our portfolio, key trends and takeaways, and select case studies. Read the full report—2020 Impact Report.

To all of our readers: We are humbled to share the lessons we learned and the insights we gained in the past year. We hope this public report helps to inspire people and create transparency in the field of impact investing.

Thank you to our investors, network partners, and collaborators. And thank you to the ETF portfolio company founders and leaders for your vision and tenacity. We are privileged to support you as you redesign the education and workforce development systems and address the needs of a rapidly changing economy.

Read the full impact report
Read more

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