Twelve million Americans currently struggle to find employment in communities that have no open jobs to fill. Education is often cited as the solution: people with college degrees earn up to $1 million more in their lifetimes than high school graduates. However, 70% of community college students drop out--translating into almost 5 million people missing out on the tools needed to compete in tomorrow’s market. Lack of money is the most cited reason for dropping out; students just can’t afford books, transportation to school, and the opportunity cost of not taking a minimum wage job.
Help us reach our goal. Every donation helps:
$5 One notebook and pen for student
$10 One set of headphones & computer mouse for student
$50 One monthly bus pass for student
$150 MS Office software for one student computer
$300 New netbook for one student
Today, joblessness in America rivals that of the Great Depression, and the depleted number of jobs equates to a lack of a channel to break the cycle of poverty. Many of these low-income students strive to stay afloat as they juggle both the pursuit of their degree and the fight to make ends meet. Unfortunately, the struggle often ends in high dropout rates, which, evidence suggests, dominos into a significant decrease in lifetime earnings. As most job growth is going to industries that demand technical skills and familiarity with information technology, equipping our youth with the tools of a college education and specialized training is more important than ever. Tragically, low-income communities are being left out of this newly emerging digital economy due to inadequate education and accessibility.
SamaUSA, currently piloting in Northern California, aims to bring a river of opportunity to areas that are currently deserts of unemployment, so that eventually any low-income student can earn the incremental dollars required to keep them in school. The methodology: use already existing community infrastructure to hold rigorous training modules in online work. These seminar-style classes will prepare participants to market themselves to some of the largest online marketplaces like ODesk or Elance, teach the most sought after, market-aligned skills, and give the soft skills required to be successful.
The online work sector totalled $1 billion in 2012 and provides over 300,000 jobs. The number of jobs increases by 105% year over year, and they pay an average of $22 per hour for workers in the United States, 300% more than federal minimum wage. SamaUSA training will use cutting-edge education technology, hands-on counseling, and strong partnerships with the community to ensure sustainable outcomes. Workers can begin a variety of projects -- transcription, data entry, content writing, and research projects-- with very basic technical skills. SamaUSA will connect low-income Americans with jobs regardless of their location and bring them into the technological economic dialogue that has defined the 21st century.
Samasource, an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise, has 4 years of deep expertise giving dignified work to poor people via the Internet. To date, we’ve connected over $2.4 million in living wages to 3,400 women and youth in the slums and rural areas of East Africa, Asia, and Haiti. Workers pull themselves out of poverty by doing microwork (small digital tasks) for companies including LinkedIn and Google through our proprietary online platform, thereby learning crucial professional skills while becoming a breadwinner for their families. After years of successfully giving vulnerable people work abroad, we are bringing the challenge home to America.
In March 2012, Samasource received partial funding from the California Endowment to pilot the initial digital training model both in the San Francisco Bay Area and in a rural community in California. Additional support from the Job Raising Challenge will allow us to impact more low-income students per year by helping them build critical, relevant skills and earn supplemental income with digital work. By bringing Americans into the online workforce, Samasource can achieve its goal of helping the world’s poor escape poverty.