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At a recent meeting of the minds at Impact Hub, it was barely 8:30 a.m., but the Workforce Development Accelerator cohort was already busy presenting their ideas and progress for the week. Every Wednesday, the cohort meets to discuss their solutions for improving Austin’s workforce crisis: namely, by bridging the gap between underrepresented groups and the underemployed to available opportunities and middle-skill jobs in the Austin area.

Each week, the cohort answers a series of “Touchstone” questions (“Why does your venture exist? What is the goal to create that world?”) about their business ventures, community partnerships, and ideas for addressing workforce challenges. Most importantly, the cohort (which includes nine organizations in manufacturing, health, and technology fields) provides valuable support for one another by giving feedback on each member’s business plan and helping members forge connections and beneficial partnerships. Cohort members also undergo robust mentoring meetings and participate in weekly team-building activities and customized coaching sessions, to help grow their presence in the community.

On this particular Wednesday, the room was abuzz with productive chatter and talk of recent developments. Hudson Baird, the Executive Director of PelotonU, began the Touchstone portion of the morning by giving glowing testimonials from their students — PelotonU provides people who wouldn’t otherwise fit the traditional college pathways with access to a four-year degree — and talking about their newly curated online coursework. Austin Coding Academy discussed their high-profile partnership with Goodwill, a product of a recent Accelerator event, and the founders of KeyUp (a nonprofit that enables young adults to get good jobs without a four-year degree) were enthusiastic about a new partnership with E3 Alliance, a group that’s set to provide KeyUp with guidance counselors to help test-drive their business prototype. After each cohort member completed their Touchstone questions, the rest of the room was encouraged to provide helpful critiques and ideas — mentor names were mentioned, contacts were given, and the room felt alive with possibility.

As the Accelerator reaches its midway point, the cohort remains as excited as ever about the weeks that lie ahead, and pleased with the collective progress that’s been made so far. As the morning meeting came to a close, Impact Hub’s Managing Director, Ashley Phillips, said, “I’m just really thankful for what’s being built here.”
It’s time to celebrate! Join the Workforce Development Accelerator for their upcoming Community Showcase, where the team will present their innovative solutions to investors, entrepreneurs, and leaders from nonprofit, business and government sectors in the community.