The 2020 pandemic has called attention to the issue of women trying to navigate the conflict between work and family. But working women knew this was a problem long before 2020. And so did we.
In March of 2016 Path Forward launched with a mission to empower people to return to the paid workforce after a career break to accommodate caregiving. We knew the root of the problem was on the demand side — not enough employers were offering opportunities for unpaid caregivers to return to the paid workforce.
Every journey begins with the first step. In August of 2016 we announced six employer partnerships and by the fall we had a cohort of ten women. We knew it was a modest start, but it was a start. Four of those women — Gloria, Tricia, Wendy, and Viviana — are still working at those companies today. In the years that followed, we expanded our program nationally and started working with some of the largest employers on the planet, including Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Walmart, just to name a few. Our community of returners grew and we began hosting career restart events and job fairs for hundreds of returners at a time across the country.
Then came 2020. On top of the nearly 10 million women who were already out of the workforce for caregiving, another 2.5 million were forced out by the pandemic and the resulting caregiving crisis. At Path Forward, we felt renewed urgency around our mission, and while it was a challenging year, it also offered the opportunity to innovate our program. With events shut down we brought our Career Restart Seminars to Zoom and launched a monthly webinar program to provide advice from alumni, recruiters and Path Forward staff. By the end of 2020 we’d had more than 8,000 returners register to attend one of our events, with many attending multiple sessions. We are now able to bring return-to-work advice and inspiration to people no matter where they live.
As we wrap up Q1 of 2021 we are so proud to be able to say that we have now launched more than 80 returnship programs and have graduated more than 550 people from those programs – 80% of them into full-time jobs. (Read our full 2021 Impact Statement here)
We are so grateful for half a decade of serving this community. We have big plans for increasing our impact for all of the caregivers who will be trying to restart their careers in 2021 and beyond. If you have the means, please consider donating to Path Forward today.
Here’s to many more years of paving the path forward!
“Path Forward’s returnship program is so amazing. I knew in my heart that I had value to add to a company, and I had a lot of experience, even if it wasn’t fresh experience. I just had to figure out how to get an employer to recognize my value.” – Heidi McAllister, Amazon returner