By Leah Belsky, Chief Enterprise Officer
The pandemic profoundly reshaped the skills and employment landscape, accelerating digitization, displacing workers, and worsening social inequities. With 149 million new digital jobs projected globally by 2025, the skills gap will only continue to widen as businesses and workers face the challenge of reskilling amid rapid transformation.
To address these challenges, Coursera and the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream (MCAAD) have joined forces to launch The American Dream Academy, an ambitious free online training initiative designed to prepare underserved communities across the U.S. to enter high-growth digital jobs, while removing barriers to earning a college degree.
As Coursera’s largest workforce development partnership, the MCAAD American Dream Academy will provide scholarships for certified skills training to over 200,000 underemployed Americans over three years, particularly youth, underemployed workers, and those without a college degree, to unlock their full economic potential.
“Our mission with this partnership is to give underemployed young Americans the opportunity to learn skills that will qualify them for higher-level employment, so they are better positioned to prosper and work toward their ultimate dreams. Simultaneously, the program will provide a steady stream of talent to companies that want to diversify their workforce and focus workforce training on skills for the future, not the past. We encourage businesses across America to join us and Coursera in expanding opportunities to underserved youth to ensure a skilled workforce for the future.”– Dr. Kerry Healey, President of MCAAD
The free six-month program focuses on three key areas:
- Industry-recognized credentials and degree pathways
- Eight entry-level Professional Certificates from industry leaders such as Google, IBM, Meta, and more, which train workers without a degree or technology experience for well-paying digital jobs in fields like IT support, social media marketing, data analytics, and cybersecurity.
- High-quality online courses identified by MCAAD as critical for jobs of the future, emphasizing durable employability skills including critical thinking, communication, and developing a growth mindset.
- Learners who complete certificates from Google and IBM with ACE Credit Recommendation are eligible to earn up to 10 to 12 college credits – the equivalent of up to four college courses.
- Western Governors University will allow TADA learners who complete the program to transfer credits into a degree program and qualify for admissions in WGU’s Bachelor programs in the College of Business and College of Information Technology.
- The University of North Texas will allow TADA learners who complete certificates from Google and Meta to transfer credits into its Bachelors of Applied Arts and Sciences program.
- Wrap-around support services
- Webinars and virtual experiences will enable learners to build community and develop tools to succeed at work or continue education.
- Elective courses will help learners build their professional networks, write resumes and cover letters, and prepare for job interviews.
- Upon completion of the program, each learner earns an American Dream Scholars Badge acknowledging their achievement, as well as industry-recognized certificates for the credentials they earn along the way.
- An “alumni” network of badge holders offering mentorship and networking opportunities.
- Job opportunities
- Learners who complete entry-level certificates from Google are able to apply for open jobs from 150+ employers who are currently hiring, including Walmart, Verizon, and Google.
- IBM will connect learners enrolled in the IBM cybersecurity analyst certificate with additional cyber career readiness and support resources on its SkillsBuild platform.
- Meta Certification Career Network connects certified learners with 100+ companies including BBDO, Havas Media, GroupM and more.
- EY will support TADA learners with access to their employer networks and insights on in-demand jobs and employability skills.
“The American Dream Academy’s mission to support skills education, especially for underserved populations in the U.S., will help diversify our future workforce. The National Black Chamber of Commerce is proud to partner on this nationwide initiative and create fantastic opportunities for economic mobility. We encourage our members and their businesses to utilize these scholarships and prepare our communities for the evolution of work.”– Charles H. DeBow, III, Executive Director of the National Black Chamber of Commerce
A call to action
Training and reskilling workers won’t be enough if employers maintain outdated practices with strict requirements for educational attainment and rigid in-person working policies. We invite employers to join us in this movement to remove barriers to great jobs while expanding and diversifying their hiring pipelines.
MCAAD and Coursera are proud to join with our partners to help revitalize the American Dream and build a more equitable workforce in the digital economy.