New York, March 22, 2016 — Matt Blumberg, Chief Executive Officer of data solutions provider Return Path, today announced that Return Path is assisting in the creation of a new nonprofit organization called Path Forward. The new organization’s mission is to increase opportunities for individuals, including parents and other caregivers, who have been out of the workplace for extended periods of time by providing midcareer internships. Path Forward has set a goal of on-ramping 1 million people within 10 years by bringing this program to more than 10,000 companies.
The new organization is launching with a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdrise to raise $500,000 and plans to launch programs with companies in New York, California, and Colorado starting in the fall of 2016 and into the early part of 2017.
Path Forward’s inaugural Board of Directors includes angel investor Joanne Wilson, who will serve as Co-Chair, venture investor Brad Feld, former media executive Cathie Black, Aspen Institute executive Rajiv Vinnakota, and human resources executive Cathy Hawley. Mr. Blumberg will serve as Co-Chair of the Board.
Path Forward began as a program at Return Path in 2015 with a cohort of six people, of whom four were hired. The program expanded into a community coalition effort with ReadyTalk, SendGrid, Moz, SpotX and MWH Global. Across the six companies there were more than 30 people and more than 80 percent were offered continued employment at the conclusion of the program this month.
In 2016, PayPal joined the program and onboarded nine software engineers in San Jose and Chicago.
“As CEO I’ve personally seen the bias faced by parents, usually women, who take even a few years off to focus on childcare. We created a return-to-work program at Return Path and it was very successful — for the women who participated and the managers who added great talent to their teams,” said Mr. Blumberg. “We knew this program could be successful at many other companies and our partnerships proved that to be true. Spinning the program out into a nonprofit organization will enable the program to scale and serve more participants across the country.”
“We partnered with Path Forward to kick off the PayPal Recharge program that was designed to increase diversity in technology while also giving individuals who want to return to work an opportunity to expand their experience and network. Our managers embraced the program and we are excited to have nine technologists in our first cohort. Across PayPal, employees are enthusiastic about the program and proud to be part of an organization that is taking a leadership role in welcoming moms into the tech workspace,” said LaFawn Bailey, Global Head of Culture and Diversity, PayPal. “The team at Path Forward has been instrumental in helping us launch our program and make it successful. We are excited to see them grow and bring programs like this to more companies and expand the opportunity for women who want to resume and advance their careers after taking a pause.”
Mr. Blumberg also announced today the appointment of Tami M. Forman, formerly VP of Corporate Marketing at Return Path, as Path Forward’s Executive Director. Ms. Forman spent more than 10 years as a marketing executive at Return Path where she was a member of the Executive Committee. Prior to Return Path Tami held senior-level editorial positions at iVillage and News Corporation.
“I believe the Path Forward program has the power to transform lives and transform companies. The people I’ve met in this program are smart, experienced, engaged and extremely motivated to be successful. They are most employers’ dream candidates. Yet when faced with the current mechanics of the recruiting process they often hit a wall,” said Ms. Forman. “Through Path Forward we will connect great companies with great talent and reduce the penalty people face when they take time off for caregiving.”
Of the fundraising efforts, Mr. Blumberg said “We are raising $500,000 on Crowdrise to get the new organization off the ground, scale quickly and serve as many people as possible.The money we raise will be used to reach out to participants, sign on new employers to offer internships, develop training curriculums for partners and participants, and provide support services to participants throughout the program. I can imagine many people will want to support the work that we are doing. Nearly everyone I talk to has a personal connection to the issue – whether it’s a family member, a friend, or even their own mom. If we believe that society benefits when women, and men, focus some of their time on the needs of their family, we need to make sure they don’t face an undue penalty for making that sacrifice.”
Path Forward is applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS. Donations made now to the organization are not deductible as charitable contributions but will be deductible at such time that recognition of 501(c)(3) status is granted.
About Path Forward
Path Forward is a nonprofit organization on a mission to eliminate the bias faced by people who take time off from the paid workforce for caregiving responsibilities and to support gender equality in the workforce. Path Forward creates programs that empower people to return to the workforce after a career break and implement these programs at companies that want to help. Learn more about Path Forward and sign up to get updates about our upcoming programs at www.pathforward.org.
Quotes from the Path Forward Board of Directors
“I know so many smart, talented, and capable women who have taken time off from their careers to raise their family and they should be able to seamlessly re-enter the work force. More businesses are realizing that this untapped talent pool is significant and worthy but aren’t sure how to onboard them into their companies. I am excited to be part of Path Forward because we are leading the charge to bring women who have taken time off back to the work world. Our hope is that over time Path Forward’s program will be part of every company’s culture so that every woman’s desire to return to the work force is an easy reality.” — Joanne Wilson, Gotham Gal, Co-Founder of the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival
“I’m an enormous believer in the power of being a male advocate to support the advancement of women. In my work with NCWIT I’ve seen how change can happen when companies commit themselves to change. With Path Forward I see a new and powerful way for companies to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting gender diversity. More importantly I see an opportunity for companies to hire amazing talent.” — Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group and Chair of the Board of National Center for Women & Information Technology
“Women have broken down many barriers to success in today’s workplace, yet there is one remaining challenge: preparing women to return to the workforce after a hiatus for raising children. Taking time off to nurture and care for others does not diminish a woman’s career aspirations but the road back to paid work is too often fraught with obstacles. The time is exactly right for corporations to take a leadership role with the innovative program that Path Forward has created. A win-win for all.” – Cathie Black, former media executive and now angel investor and board member
“Path Forward’s program is exciting to me because it changes lives and improves society. The Path Forward program challenges employers and society to re-think how we use the talent around us: by enabling talented women to re-enter the workforce and make tangible contributions to the companies they join, we utilize the considerable talent and expertise that is already around us, propelling the individuals involved, the families of whom they are part, the companies they join, and the general community forward.” — Rajiv Vinnakota, Executive Vice President, The Aspen Institute
“Creating and launching the return to work program at Return Path has been one of the most satisfying achievements of my professional career. When I think of the many amazing people we’ve been able to hire — and the significant contributions they’ve made to our business — I’m mystified at the companies that passed them by. I’m so thrilled to be a member of the Board of Path Forward and to bring this program to many more companies across the country.” — Cathy Hawley, VP of People Development at Return Path
Quotes from Path Forward Partners
“The Path Forward program has been incredibly valuable for our recruitment strategy and our business. The opportunity to partner with other top companies, share knowledge, and build community has been invaluable.” —Courtney Graham, Senior Director of Human Resources, ReadyTalk
“We are thrilled to support Path Forward. It offers a tremendous opportunity to support people who are rejoining the workforce after an extended absence for caregiving. Through our involvement in the program, we have learned firsthand about the benefits of adding diverse perspectives and skill sets to our team. We look forward to continuing to work with Path Forward as our team grows in 2016 and beyond.” —Maureen Schilling, Human Resources, SpotX
“Our participation with Path Forward leveraged a new way of tapping into a diverse talent pool. The program furthered two aspects of our multi-disciplined diversity and inclusion strategy (community and culture) in a very special way. We love Path Forward and can’t wait to bring on another cohort!” —Margho Dunnahoo-Kirsch, Corporate Recruiter, SendGrid
“We were thrilled to join the Path Forward program in Seattle and bring women back to work in technical roles at Moz. The leadership and guidance Path Forward provided made our experience a very positive one that we plan to continue in the future.” —Rebecca Clements, Vice President, Human Resources, Moz
Quotes from Path Forward Participants
“The Path Forward program was an amazing opportunity to re-start my career after a long parenting hiatus. It introduced me to progressive companies on the forefront of people-first cultures and work/life balance. I now feel confident about my chances for renewed success in technology sales.” —John Bortscheller, Sales, ReadyTalk
“I feel so honored to be part of this amazing program. It has been very fulfilling to be part of a team again. It has given me the confidence to know that I’m not alone in this transition and that I can provide a valuable contribution in today’s workforce. You can do this!” —Janelle Pelletier, Client Service, Return Path
“While I’m sure there are those rare souls who gracefully integrate a professional life and a family life with ease, I’ve stumbled plenty searching for that nebulous ‘life balance.’ The Path Forward program has allowed me to re-engage with a career I assumed had been lost to earlier choices. Thank you for making it possible for me to test the intellectual waters again.” —Lisa Souza, QA Engineer, Moz
“Participating in the Path Forward program gave me the opportunity to begin a new career. It has allowed me to reinvent myself and bring value right away to the company. Feeling appreciated for my experience is a wonderful way to re-enter the workforce.” —Kim Poletti, Content Marketing, Return Path