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The Ripple Effect: Solving Economic Inequality Through Workforce Development

The Ripple Effect: Solving Economic Inequality Through Workforce Development

By: Alejandra Reyes-Velarde

After years of being a stay-at-home mom, Maria Capote was ready to jump back into the workforce. Through the nonprofit Opportunity Junction, Capote, who had no office experience, landed a job at Future State, an Oakland, California-based consulting company with clients such as Clif Bar and Cisco. Future State specializes in helping companies with complex change management including mergers and challenges such as retooling their operations in the face of rapid growth.

Future State is working toward solving economic inequality—and workforce development is front and center in that mission. The company partners with Opportunity Junction, a nonprofit that trains low-income residents in administrative skills and gives them career counseling and assistance with technical education. Future State employees have volunteered to give mock interviews and hosted clothing drives. Future State has funded the nonprofit since the company was founded in 1982.

This year Future State COO Kathy Krumpe looked to Opportunity Junction as a recruiting channel to give low-income job-seekers a chance of higher wages. Capote fit the bill.

“This has changed my life for the better,” Capote said. “I’m contributing to my family’s income. [My family is] able to do more, to reach our goals.”

[Related: Moms, 2018 Is Your Year To Get Hired]

Future State created an administrative position for Capote that required training on e-learning software. After completing software training from Krump, a short internship and a test, Capote proved qualified for the new delivery assistant position, which requires her to manage internal operations and juggle multiple projects.

“I get an authentic sense of a bottom line that’s not just financial, but that’s also about making our community and local family stronger.”

With her increased income, Capote said she hopes to buy a home and visit Israel, something she could not say before she landed the job.

“[Future State has] a very strong sense of a social mission as well as providing excellence in consulting,” said Alissa Friedman, executive director of Opportunity Junction. “I get an authentic sense of a bottom line that’s not just financial, but that’s also about making our community and local family stronger.”

Friedman added she thinks Capote has gained confidence since going through the Future State and Opportunity Junction training.

“Maybe I pay higher salaries, but what I do get out of that is a level of engagement and grit from my team members.”

Future State, composed 80 percent women employees and led by women, also gives unlimited maternal and paternal paid leave, is entirely employee-owned and compensates employees for 20 hours of volunteer work per year. The generous employee benefits allow the staff to dive into their work and invest in their clients, said CEO Shannon Adkins.

“Maybe I pay higher salaries, but what I do get out of that is a level of engagement and grit from my team members,” Adkins said. “That really makes a difference in our ability to serve our clients.”

The company also provides discounted consulting services to nonprofits and social enterprise companies, and allows nonprofits to use some of its office space for free. Currently, The Dellums Institute for Social Justice, which trains young people to be social justice leaders, is using a portion of Future State’s office and the two organizations’ employees interact daily.

[Related: EllevateHER: Access to Professional Development Resources for Underrepresented Populations of Women]

Adkins said Future State employees enjoy the connection to the Dellums Institute and help the institute with organizational alignment and communication skills.

“I don’t have $80,000 in corporate funds to give a year, but I do have the assets that if I think creatively of how to best apply them to drive social change, then we can have a ripple effect,” Adkins said.

A version of this article originally appeared on B the Change

This article by Alejandra Reyes-Velarde originally was published in the San Francisco Business Times

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Future State is part of the community of Certified B Corporations. Read more stories of people using business as a force for good in B the Change, or sign up to receive the B the Change Weekly newsletter for more stories like the one above, delivered straight to your inbox. 


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