2020 Grants Challenge

COOP Careers LA Expansion

Idea by COOP Careers

COOP’s flagship program is a unique digital apprenticeship: peer cohorts of 16 motivated, underemployed grads meet nightly for 16 weeks (200 hours) to learn technical skills, build community, and jumpstart careers in digital marketing and data analytics. Each cohort is led by a team of four cohort captains, near-peer program alumni who serve as coaches, and mentors on top of busy jobs at local ad agencies and tech companies. In parallel, COOP helps these same employers meet and hire an increasing number of diverse, qualified candidates.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

Nationwide, nearly half of recent college grads (ages 21-27) are unemployed or underemployed, and the rates are even higher for black college grads (Vox). With almost 400,000 Black and Latinx college graduates (NCES) entering the workforce every year, this underemployment crisis only stands to grow. This is a recipe to deepen national trends of downward mobility and wealth inequality for people of color (WaPo).

Furthermore, informal relationships dominate our labor market. Referred candidates are nine times as likely to get hired (LinkedIn), and currently only 30% of employee referrals go to people of color (Payscale).

We have learned that a Bachelor’s degree is necessary, but not sufficient. We need connections and referrals as much as skills. Ultimately, a labor market powered by relationships will reinforce the status quo. We believe that by cultivating social networks and closing the referral gap, we can make a significant impact on the underemployment epidemic.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

COOP was founded in 2014 and is dedicated to closing the social capital gap- the deficit between high-income individuals’ reported interpersonal relationships with mentors and low-income individuals’ relationships (The 74 Million)- by training diverse, low-income, and first-generation college grads. Across NYC and the Bay Area, we’ve launched over 90 cohorts, welcoming 1,000+ alumni in our first five years. 80% of alumni overcome underemployment within one year, earning an average of $45,000 after 12 months and almost $60,000 after three years. These outcomes demonstrate how COOP is fueling upward mobility and fulfilling the promise of higher education for the students we serve.

We have grown at a rate of almost 90% annually, while still achieving stellar outcomes. Google, LinkedIn, and the Christensen Institute have recognized us as a best-in-class program, and according to an independent analysis, “Every $1 invested in COOP creates a permanent $9 wage increase.” (Arbor Brothers)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 160

Indirect Impact: 300

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Our labor market and society are dominated by informal relationships and people doing favors for one another. That is social capital in action, and we seek to utilize that “favor economy” for a part of society left behind as our economy has grown and now is being threatened with potential recession.

We seek to shift the systems and narratives that say that skills are the pathway to prosperity, and instead one that shows how relationships can propel upward mobility. A common idiom is that “who you know matters as much as what you know,” but we have designed our systems to say otherwise. We hope to redesign and construct our higher education and labor market, so that they actively focus on building the “who you know” portion of the equation.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The past five years have proven that COOP deserves to be a vital part of the conversation surrounding upward mobility in America, and over the next several years we are determined to show that our work can grow across the country. Our aspiration is to launch 10,000 careers in the digital economy in our first decade, realizing 10x growth in the next four years. In order to achieve these lofty ambitions, COOP seeks $100,000 to expand our flagship program to Los Angeles, and to serve 160 local residents for upwardly mobile careers across 2020 and 2021. See below for our goals and outcomes for this project:

Goal 1: Recruit and train 160 underemployed/underrepresented grads in our flagship program

-93% completion (149 alumni)

-100% of students will receive a industry certification and present industry projects

Goal 2: Connect at least 80% (120 alumni) to full-time, salaried positions that require their degree

-60% of alumni secure full-time, salaried positions within six months, 80% within 12 months, and 80% of alumni maintain job retention over 24, 36, and 48 months

-$45,000 median income after 12 months

Goal 3: Train and support 40+ alumni leaders in our expanded cohort captain and alumni specialist model

-Over 95% of captains are retained 10 weeks after the program cycle begins.

-90%+ of COOPers are satisfied with their Cohort Captain.

-9+ net promoter score for alumni leaders

-Career promotion/advancement and wage gains for our Captains against our other Alumni.

Which of the CREATE metrics will your submission impact?​

Income inequality

Global cultural and economic influence (“soft power”)

Unemployment rate

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Host public events or gatherings

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation