The websites aim to provide information and links to resources, based on the user’s location and personal needs. At least 20 states are expected to follow California’s lead in offering an interactive, one-stop resource.
(TNS) — Less than three weeks after Fresno-based Bitwise Industries launched OnwardCA.org, a new website to help California workers find emergency assistance and jobs after coronavirus-related layoffs, other states are lining up to bring the online platform to their residents.
On Monday, Colorado activated its OnwardCO.org website – the first of at least 20 states that are expected to follow California’s and Bitwise’s lead in offering an interactive, one-stop resource for displaced workers to find resources based on where they live and what their specific needs are. As the platforms expand to more states, the idea is being dubbed OnwardUS.
“As we work to ensure the health and safety of Coloradans during these unprecedented times, it’s critical that we also help the economy recover,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a written statement Monday. “Colorado is proud to be part of the OnwardUS coalition, an example of the power of public-private partnership.”
Bitwise Industries co-CEO Jake Soberal is gratified at the impact that OnwardCA.org is having to assist people whose jobs have been affected by the sweeping stay-at-home orders and closures of “non-essential” businesses issued by state and local officials.
When OnwardCA went live on April 2, “we expected to serve 10,000 workers in the first month, 100,000 in the second month, and a million in the third month,” Soberal said. “As it turned out, we served 100,000 in the first 24 hours, and 250,000 in the first week after launch.”
“It’s heartening because we can see that folks are utilizing the resources,” Soberal added, “but it also speaks to the depth of the need.”
In California, as well as in Colorado and other states that will roll out the OnwardUS concept in coming weeks, the websites aim to provide information and links to resources, based on the user’s location and personal needs, in three distinct tiers of aid:
Immediate sources for monetary aid — from unemployment to industry relief funds for workers to loans and grants for small businesses.
Emergency non-monetary resources — including food, shelter, medicine, groceries, child-care, and more.
Job matching — to pair up workers’ skills with companies that are doing immediate hiring because of higher demand during the coronavirus-precaution measures, like call centers and deliveries of food and other goods. Job-training resources are also planned for people who need to make a change in career after losing their jobs to the pandemic.
As of late last week, more than 300,000 people had visited OnwardCA.org to be matched to at least one resource. The website has more than 113,000 jobs statewide in its interactive database, and users can also find links, based on where they live, to almost 26,000 “essential life services” such as emergency aid for money or food.
Bitwise’s software-development arm, Shift3 Technologies, is collaborating with Oakland technology nonprofit Kapor Center, LinkedIn, Salesforce and MasterCard to help expand the concept to other states. Other private-sector organizations involved in OnwardUS include Zoma Foundation, Schmidt Futures, Twilio, Google, Indeed and Facebook.
“Governors around the country began asking, ‘Can we launch Onward in our state?’ Soberal said. “We took the attitude that we want to serve as many workers in as many states as possible. This is perfectly in line with what we want to do.”
“Colorado and Gov. Polis are the first that we connected with in that way,” Soberal added.
In the week ending April 11, about 105,000 Colorado workers filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits, more than double the previous week.
©2020 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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