Solving a Big Problem, Setting a Big Goal
I’m pleased and proud to announce the launch of Path Forward, Inc. a nonprofit organization aimed at empowering people to return to work after taking time to focus on caregiving. We plan to work with some of the world’s best companies to create return-to-work internships for midcareer professionals as a means of re-introducing moms, dads, and other caregivers back to the paid workforce. In fact, our audacious goal is to on-ramp 1 million people within 10 years by bringing this program to more than 10,000 companies.
People who take time off from the paid workforce face incredible bias and discrimination when they try to re-enter the workforce. The people I’ve met in this program are amazing – they are bright, capable, experienced, and mature. These women and men are – in so many ways – the ideal candidates that many employers say they are searching high and low for. And yet too many of them can’t find suitable employment.
By creating an on-ramp back to the paid workforce, we believe Path Forward can reduce the stigma of having a gap in experience and have an impact on the people in the program and the financial health of their families. The participants are not the only ones who benefit from Path Forward. We think it will also have an impact on employers by inspiring them to tap into a “hidden” wealth of talent that they are currently overlooking. And, because women are more likely to make a career sacrifice to focus on caregiving over paid work, we think this program can increase gender equality and balance at many companies.
Path Forward began as a program at data solutions provider, Return Path. In January of 2015 they kicked off the program with six women in Colorado, four of whom got hired. Looking to expand the program that fall, Return Path reached out to other companies in Colorado to join in the effort. They were soon joined by SendGrid, ReadyTalk, SpotX and MWH Global. Then Moz in Seattle joined. After Return Path CEO Matt Blumberg wrote about the program in this blog post, PayPal called and asked if they could join.
Clearly there was an idea here that was bigger than what one software company could do on its own. So the idea for a nonprofit organization that could have a bigger impact was born.
Why I Quit My Job to Run Path Forward
I’ve spent the last decade of my career as a marketing executive at Return Path. When our CEO, Matt Blumberg, told me about his idea for a nonprofit I felt an immediate need to get involved. When he offered me the opportunity to serve as executive director, I leapt at it. My connection to Path Forward is very personal – I haven’t (yet!) taken a break in my career, but I have been a working mom for the last 8 years. I’ve faced the struggle many parents face. And I’ve watched with dismay when amazing women (and a few men) who take time to focus on their families struggle to get employed when they are ready to return. And I’ve been equally dismayed to watch how these dynamics make it difficult for women to advance their careers and make it difficult for companies to find the talented women leaders they need to build the strongest, best performing companies. I believe that everyone – women and men – deserve the opportunity to live big, full lives that includes a fulfilling career, a meaningful family life, and pursuit of personal passions. By creating an on ramp for anyone who’s taken time off for caregiving responsibilities we hope to open up the conversation and create more space for everyone to achieve their dreams.
Join us on our quest to change the world and change the lives of 1 million people. Here are some ways you can join us:
- We are launching a fundraising campaign on Crowdrise to raise money to support bringing the Path Forward program to companies in New York, California and Colorado. Donate here.
- Bring the Path Forward program to your company. Check out this page to learn how the program works, then sign up to get more information about how you can work with us.
- Are you interested in on-ramping back to paid work by participating in a Path Forward program? Learn more here and then sign up to get email updates as openings become available.