About Grads of Life & Our Work

Our Mission & Vision

The private sector has a leading role to play in building a more equitable America. Companies that create good jobs, build inclusive cultures, and center skills in their HR strategies not only help to establish strong communities, but realize real business value including:

  • More sustainable and diverse hiring 
  • Increased retention and promotion
  • Improved employee engagement and satisfaction

Grads of Life’s mission is to empower companies to eliminate the gap that separates them from the diverse talent our country has to offer.

We envision a world where all people have access to quality jobs, financial stability, and economic mobility.

What We Do

Grads of Life works with leading employers to implement skills-first talent practices that deliver both business benefits and social impact. Using our rigorous, research-backed assessment tool, the Opportunity Identifier, we begin by diagnosing an employer’s strengths and gaps. Paired with each company’s individual goals and needs, we use those findings to customize:

  • Skills-first talent, retention and advancement strategies
  • Implementation and change management support
  • Inclusive culture workshops and trainings

Our History

Grads of Life began in 2014 as a national PSA campaign in partnership with the Ad Council. Founders Elyse Rosenblum and Shawn Bohen, both early leaders in the inclusive and skills-first employment movement, recognized what remains our north star: The best way to connect all Americans to opportunity is to leverage the power of the private sector. The multimedia PSA campaign was the first step. It showcased the potential of young, diverse talent who lack college credentials but bring experience, determination, and loyalty to forward-thinking employers. 

The PSA was viewed over a billion times, and two years later the movement saw a big milestone as President Obama prioritized youth employment and skills-training with a $10B investment. As support grew, so did Grads of Life. In 2017, we published Dismissed by Degrees, a flagship report co-authored with Harvard Business School and Accenture. Dismissed by Degrees was the first piece of research to uncover the true cost of degree inflation to business, and remains frequently cited.  

Since 2017, Grads of Life has become an in-depth business consultancy in addition to continued movement-building and research efforts. Grads of Life is an original architect of this movement, and has remained at the forefront by adapting to changing markets and business needs to ensure employers remain empowered to lead us to a skills-first labor market and equitable future. Grads of Life is being incubated within Year Up, a world-class job training program. Also under the Year Up umbrella is YUPRO Placement, a skills-first talent placement firm with which we also collaborate closely.

Get the Insights You Need

We are committed to sharing the lessons we learn as we work with corporate America
to build skills-first talent strategies and inclusive cultures.