OnwardCA created to help displaced Californians find work – Daily News

on Apr2
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With scores of businesses closing amid the coronavirus pandemic, people throughout California have found themselves out of work and are wondering where to turn.

More than 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits over the past two weeks alone.

But help is on the way.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, April 2 unveiled an online resource designed to get displaced employees back to work. The OnwardCA website onwardca.org connects people with emergency resources and training programs to upskill for a new career. It also will help match users with employers who are looking for people with their current skill set.

The platform also connects people to funds and necessities such as groceries, shelter and medicine.

COVID-19-related resources on the website include:

  • Statewide COVID-19 Clearinghouse
  • California Department of Public Health
  • California Office of Emergency Services
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

Users click on a county and a variety of resources are revealed under categories such as Consumers & Businesses, Frequently Asked Questions and Coping With Stress.

Collective effort

The website was created through a broad coalition of public and private sectors led by tech firm Bitwise Industries and Kapor Center, a business that works to make technology and entrepreneurship more diverse and inclusive.

“This is the time to act, and Bitwise saw an opportunity to serve our community by bringing together the resources people need most into one place,” Bitwise co-founder and CEO Jake Soberal said.

Fresno-based Bitwise is the parent company for Shift3 Technologies, which aggregated the employer data and built the search platform.

“We worked closely with Kapor Center the state of California, Indeed.com, Linkedin and CalJOBS, Soberal said. “We’ve been able to source 70,000 jobs in just five days of data collection. That number will be refreshed nightly as some jobs get filled.”

Fast turnaround

The OnwardCA website was created quickly to address the pressing needs of out-of-work Californians, Soberal said.

“We might normally take six to 12 months to aggregate and build this kind of data collection site,” he said. “But this was a 10-day process.”

OnwardCA’s one-stop-shop platform closely mirrors the L.A. County Business and Worker Disaster Help Center, which was unveiled last week. That website (lacountyhelpcenter.org) helps business owners and employees who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis.

It helps businesses comply with public health orders and gain access to a variety of financial resources, including relief packages from state and federal agencies.

Freada Kapor Klein, co-chair of the Kapor Center, said her organization immediately saw how COVID-19 has affected people’s lives — particularly small business owners and workers.

“Our support of OnwardCA is meant to get the gears of the economy going again,” she said.

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