Salesforce believes business is a powerful platform for change. That’s why Salesforce Ventures, the company’s global corporate investment group, created a $50 million Impact Fund, which invests in companies that drive positive societal impact by addressing challenges across workforce development, equality, sustainability, and the social sector. For the second installment of this series, we spoke with Guild Education, a startup that is transforming traditional tuition reimbursement programs into a strategic investment by increasing employee recruitment, retention, upskilling, and brand equity.
What they do
Guild Education unlocks opportunity for America’s workforce through education. As the future of work continues to change, so do the needs of the workforce. This platform helps working adults gain an education through their employers’ tuition benefits, leading to positive impacts on employee recruitment and brand value.
Focus areas of investment
Education and Workforce Development
In this tight labor market, companies are looking for strategic ways to attract, retain, and upskill workers, while simultaneously strengthening their bottom line. Guild Education sees employer-provided education benefits as an opportunity to invest in the workforce and add value to businesses. The platform provides access to a network of nonprofit universities and learning providers, tuition payment management, and coaching support for each employee.
These educational programs are designed to attract hard-working adults, many who struggle with juggling the demands of work and school. There are 64 million Americans without a college degree, and a study shows that by 2020, 35% of new job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree. As Brittany Stich co-founder and vice president at Guild, puts it, “Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not.”
Brittany’s unique background in education helps guide Guild’s strategy. As a first-generation college student who received her Master of Business Administration and Master of Education from Stanford, she quickly recognized the power of education to provide opportunity and access. She spent time as a teacher in East Palo Alto, a low-income community, and worked in the community college space, where she saw firsthand how many Americans could not sacrifice working to go to school – unable to access the skills and education needed to secure higher-wage and stable jobs.
Guild provides the ability to work and go back to school at the same time, offering programs for associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, trades, high school completion, and English language learning. As a result, Brittany sees diverse demographics using the platform. Some are first-generation students like herself, and some are coming back to school after many years in the workplace. There is a diverse distribution across its programs as well, with large groups focusing on higher education and high school completion.
"Guild connects the worlds of work and school…students are able to pursue their educational goals and also grow within their company. That’s a huge win-win for all involved," reports Stich.
By partnering with Fortune 1000 companies and academic institutions, Guild enables companies to offer debt-free tuition and upskill the workforce. Around three million working adults have access to Guild programs through its partnership with companies like Walmart, Disney, Discover Financial Services, Chipotle, and Lowe’s. Guild works with companies to tailor educational programs that help meet the needs of their current- and future workforce. For example, Lowe’s Track to the Trades program helps employees gain meaningful careers in the trades, like carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and appliance repair. Upon completion of the certificate, employees work with local leaders to find apprenticeship opportunities in Lowe’s nationwide contractor network. By planning ahead for the company’s long-term goals, they are also able to meet their employees’ aspirations to enter those trades.
In addition to the work being done to support at the individual-level, Guild is setting out to enact systems change at the policy level to drive awareness around the challenges and opportunities to make education benefits more accessible. “The notion that employers can play a role in helping to upscale their workforce through education benefits is not something new,” Brittany says. “But, the idea of it being a really strategic benefit and opportunity is something that Guild has championed. People are making decisions on where to work based on whether the company is willing to invest in them and the development of their talents. There is more work to do as we think about the vast number of employers in this country, but we’re driven by the impact of the increasing number of Americans who have access to these opportunities.
They said it
"Our mission is to unlock opportunity for America’s workforce through education. At Guild, we’re focused on upskilling the 64 million Americans who don’t have a post-secondary credential. We do this through partnering with Fortune 1000 companies to offer debt-free tuition for those employees to go back to school, to get that credential, and have it lead to in-demand jobs," says Stich.
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