The Innovation Nexus currently maintains two projects, both of which are built on the collaboration of respective Project Advisory Committees.
Free and open online directory of career training opportunities in Chicagoland that exist outside of, or in addition to, the four-year degree experience.
Developed in partnership between Origami Works Foundation and the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance's Pro Path Fund. Launched in January 2020.
Expanding postsecondary options
The CareerPathways directory aims to equip young adults, adult career-seekers and -changers, and their guides with a fuller picture of the career training and education landscape. This empowers individuals to make informed career choices that are right for them, right now, and shifts mindsets towards a more expansive and equitable definition of career success.
To this end, the Nexus not only maintains an up-to-date directory through CareerPathways in partnership with training program providers, but also hosts informative, topical webinars and open houses; offers customizable counselor trainings; and compiles helpful, open-source postsecondary resources based on insights from our work.
Facilitating funding opportunities
Our one-of-a-kind Funder Portal enables philanthropic funders to find programs that fit their priorities, save and share favorites across teams, and promote upcoming opportunities to our provider network. Our team will work with you to determine the best way to engage our provider partners, streamlining your funding process and ensuring you reach your target audience.
We then work with interested providers to improve their odds of selection by interested funders, occasionally offering raffles and showcase opportunities directly to highly engaged providers.
Compiling and sharing valuable data
By partnering directly with training program providers to compile and consistently revisit program data, we ensure that the information in the directory is always up-to-date. The amount, kind, and accuracy of directory information enables us to eliminate the need for costly landscape scans in favor of a shared system used across the ecosystem.
Our data has been utilized by partners such as Education Systems Center at NIU as part of their Model Programs of Study. While we keep user information private, we know that aggregated program data can be useful to many, and are always open to working with new partners.
Talent Solutions Connector
Free and open online directory of low- and no-cost workforce services which can help employers recruit, retain, and upskill employees; connect with like-minded employers; and improve their DEI practices.
Built in partnership between the Network for Employer-Led Workforce Solutions, the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, and Origami Works Foundation. Launched in November 2021.
Providing solutions for employers' talent challenges
Employers struggling to find, keep, and upskill employees, or wondering how to implement industry-best DEI practices, can find affordable, effective solutions through our directory. Not sure what you're looking for? Connect with our team directly and we'll help you find it!
Additionally, Talent Solutions Connector compiles definitions for commonly used terms in the world of workforce development, lowering the barrier to entry for employers new to this work. We aim to make talent services approachable, accessible, and beneficial for all employer users.
Connecting providers to new employer partners
We view Talent Solutions Connector not only as a useful resource for employers, but a unique marketing tool for talent service providers looking for new employer partners. Our directory makes it easy for employers to find you, and our team will work with you to improve your employer-facing marketing.
Entries on Talent Solutions Connector each come with a unique link so you can share information whenever you need, with whomever is interested. Plus, becoming part of our network means that our team can refer employers to you directly.
Generating and sharing key insights
By partnering directly with service providers to compile and consistently revisit our data, we ensure that the information in the directory is always up-to-date. The amount, kind, and accuracy of directory information enables us to eliminate the need for costly landscape scans in favor of a shared system used across the ecosystem.
Our work with employers, including focus groups and regular feedback from engaged employers on our Advisory Committee, helps our team understand best practices for marketing to and engaging with employers on workforce partnerships. We share these insights with our partners to empower our network on multiple levels.