November 3, 2022 – Future of Work

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future: Introducing employers to the workers they need


Federal data indicates there are more than 10 million jobs that employers need to fill right now. Many of these positions are at thriving companies. In fact, it’s estimated there are 680,000 jobs that do not require a college degree open now at Fortune 500 firms. Meanwhile, there are millions of Americans living in marginalized communities who have been overlooked and are trying to find a job where they can use their unique aptitudes. 

These individuals often lack the connections, coaches, and advocates who can help them find meaningful work.

That’s where Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills) comes in. Founded in 2012, Skills has transformed the traditional workforce model to more effectively address unemployment and underemployment. The organization starts by going directly to the job source — employers — to understand their hiring needs, company culture, and long-term human resources goals. Then Skills sources and finds qualified unemployed and underemployed job seekers and connects them with those employers. Skills supports and helps individual job seekers throughout the application, interview, and hiring process and connects workers directly with its hiring partners. 

Over the last decade, Skills has worked with more than 120 employer partners to place nearly 20,000 people into jobs in Illinois and Rhode Island. Nearly two-thirds of these individuals are women and 96 percent are people of color. Once placed, workers see an average bump of more than $6,000 in their annual earnings. Skills estimates its total wage impact is nearly $250 million. 

While remaining anchored in Chicagoland, Skills plans to expand to 25 sites throughout the United States over the next 10 years. A new $750,000 grant from the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) will support that expansion. 

“We share Skills’ mission to help unlock human potential by connecting employers with the people who possess the skills and aptitudes needed for in-demand jobs,” said Ryan Stowers, executive director of the Charles Koch Foundation. “We are pleased to help fund Skills’ ambitious national campaign, which will break down barriers to employment in communities across the country.”

CKF’s support will help Skills place nearly 500,000 people into jobs. The grant brings Skills closer to its $10 million funding goal. The Walmart Foundation, Aviv Foundation, Stand Together Foundation, Community Focus Fund of the Chicago Community Trust, and numerous individual private funders already have provided $4 million to help Skills expand. 

Learn more about Skills’ expansion plans.

Read Skills’ press release announcing CKF’s support.