May 11, 2020

Concerns about the future of work and getting help for underserved communities hit hard by the economic downturn are on the forefront of this week’s column as unemployment hits the worst levels since the Great Depression.

We are featuring entrepreneurs providing services at no charge for everything from upskilling for the unemployed and a whole new look at outplacement to providing financial tools to help businesses survive…. and hopefully thrive.

A few of these are Ulu Ventures portfolio companies and while it’s not our intent to highlight only our firms, they are launching services that can have real impact on businesses and communities for the good. And finally, don’t think you can draw? Well maybe there’s hope….just pick up that pencil and go for it!

Training the unemployed for the future of work

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Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, and while according to the Washington Post, 77% of such workers believe they’ll get their jobs back, economists warn that 40+% of those jobs could be permanently lost.  In an era of mass layoffs with impending automation on the horizon, traditional outplacement models that shuffle workers from one frontline job to the next may be obsolete. Guild Educationan Ulu portfolio company has launched Next Chapter. Guild already works with some of America’s largest employers. In partnership with Walmart, they’ve helped thousands of cashiers upskill into high-demand healthcare roles. At Lowe’s, they helped thousands of employees transition from store roles into the skilled trades like HVAC technician, electrician, and carpenter.

Using matching algorithms and live coaching, they can help workers explore and select career paths that align with their skills and provide them with long-term economic mobility. Workers who need new skills to pursue their chosen career path get matched with the right programs and funding sources to get the training they need without going into debt. They offer career assessment and navigation, training programs, support services and job placement. If you are laid-off or furloughed you can find out more here.   If you are an employer reducing your workforce or hiring, find out more about how Next Chapter can help here.

Inspired by her Mom, one doctor is directing help to underserved communities

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Dr. Nana Afoh-Manin watched her immigrant mother transform their home into a care facility and place of learning in an underserved community in Los Angeles. Her mother passed away, but when COVID19 appeared, but Dr. Afoh-Manin decided to continue in her mother’s spirit, and help those most in need.

The coronavirus is a community-acquired infection that should have a community-centered response, says Afoh Manin, and it’s disproportionately affecting black and brown communities across the US in part because of lack of healthcare resources. So she created CovidMD. The CovidMD Volunteer Taskforce is an example of a private-public sector collaboration to national service that delivers a grassroots virtual triaging system so that no person is left behind in getting the human support and care they need. #wereinthistogether

Their biggest initiative has been pop-up drive-thru testing centers, where anyone can stop by for a COVID-19 serology test, regardless of if they’re exhibiting symptoms.

“Everyone has something to contribute to the world, but no one’s more important than anybody else,” says  Afoh-Manin. “I grew up learning that.”

Cash analytics solutions to customers during COVID19 – no charge

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Companies need better tools than ever to manage their way through this economic uncertainty and to position themselves to come through the crisis with strong financials and a healthy supply chain. Treasurers and CFOs are under pressure to keep suppliers and employees afloat, all the while meeting debt obligations and maintaining their credit rating, Taulia, an Ulu Fund I portfolio company, is offering its cash analytics solutions at no charge to help companies meet these challenges. The tools include: cash forecasting, financial supply chain analytics, and cash scenario planner through August 31, 2020.

Helping SMBs access federal stimulus loans

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Small businesses have struggled to get access to lenders in time for the government stimulus payments. SpotOn, a leading software and payments firm, has partnered with SoFi, an online personal finance company (an Ulu portfolio firm) to help SMBs get better access to federal stimulus loans. The partnership helps by bypassing the big-name lenders that were overrun with applications and provides merchants access to lenders who can help them immediately. Congress recently committed an additional $370 billion to these two programs due to the massive demand.

The EIDL and PPP funding programs are for businesses with less than 500 employees, SpotOn’s core customer segment, and are intended to help businesses pay their bills and retain their employees by providing low-interest or forgivable loans. SoFi can help immediately connect tens of thousands of businesses with a large network of lenders and get capital into needed hands, quickly. Over 1,500 businesses have leveraged the SpotOn platform to access CARES Act loan programs.

Buy or selling a home in a pandemic? Some precautions to take.

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From selecting movers to adding an addendum for the COVID-19 pandemic, if you are buying or selling a home, there is a lot to think about with restrictions still current in many states. Homelight, an Ulu portfolio company that provides software and services to home buyers, sellers, and real estate agents created a set of useful guidelines.

When the world is upside down, can forgiving a family member or friend help?

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The pandemic has forced most people to reassess what is most important in their lives. Family and friends may often be at the  top of the list. A quarter of Americans haven’t spoken to a sister, brother, mother, or father for years or even a dear friend. The shut down of life as we once knew it, has led more people to consider forgiveness. Could it be time for you? A thoughtful and inspirational piece about virtual reconciliations during the time of COVID. by Stephen Humphries.

Always wanted to learn to draw? Now’s the time to pick up your pencil (or pen)

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New York Times’ Andy Wright offers an easy six step guide to learning to draw, complete with videos. It’s “drawing for dummies”. Drawing can be relaxing and even meditative.  Satisfy that creative urge with a new passion or maybe just a good pastime during this ongoing homebound crisis.

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All references and hyperlinks (to specific products, medical devices, processes, services, companies, stories, articles, or other materials) are for informational purposes only and do not constitute affiliation, endorsement, or recommendation by Ulu, or that such products have been approved by relevant governmental authorities. Nothing herein is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. All product and company names mentioned herein are the trademarks, service marks, or trade names of their respective owners and all rights are reserved to them.

About the Author: Miriam Rivera

Miriam Rivera is co-founder and managing director of Ulu Ventures