Empower Everyone to Find Fulfilling Work

How can we enable people to find work that helps them succeed financially and also find greater meaning and fulfillment in their lives?

The Challenge By The Numbers

67% of U.S. workers are not engaged in their work.
1-in-4 occupations require people to get costly licenses—a permission slip to work.
7.5 million job openings in the U.S. as of May 2019, yet many people have dropped out of the labor force instead of filling them.

Finding fulfilling work starts person-to-person. We help those with effective solutions grow, making a difference state- and nation-wide.


More than 120 million people in the U.S. work full-time. But many people find little joy or meaning in what they do. Some business leaders are trying to change that.

Take Amy Rees Anderson. She founded MediConnect Global while she was a single mother of two. As a single parent, she had a deep appreciation for the sacrifices people make spending time away from their families to work. So, it was important to her that employees be given the opportunity to find genuine fulfillment in their career.

Amy created a culture to encourage employee fulfillment—rewarding employees for helping others to excel. Amy told her employees, “We’re going to grade you as a manager by how many other leaders come from your team.”

Amy understood that helping others find fulfillment is a win-win situation. Since founding MediConnect in 2006, it’s grown to over 2,000 employees who have pioneered innovation in electronic medical records and health information exchange.

Video: See how Amy Rees Anderson found fulfillment in her work, and is helping many more do the same

“What led to our being super successful was the people. I believe all it takes is one person saying, ‘I believe you are capable of doing this.’"
– Amy Rees Anderson, business leader and philanthropist

Amy is one of the 700 business leaders who are part of the Stand Together community—and who employ more than two million people combined.

She’s one of many leaders in the Stand Together community helping to teach the next generation of business leaders by supporting university programs focused on principled entrepreneurship.

Amy’s story shows what’s possible if businesses act in principled ways. But what about those that don’t—and actually try to prohibit other people from finding fulfilling work?


That's where public policy reforms come into play

Melony Armstrong knows this firsthand. After discovering her passion for braiding women’s hair, she decided to make it a career by starting a business—until she was told she couldn’t.

The state of Mississippi said she had to pay $10,000 and sit through 18 months of cosmetology training before she could open her doors. She could have become a firefighter, police officer, or hunting instructor in less time than was required to become a professional hair braider.

These permission slips to work are known as occupational licenses. Today, they apply to 1 in 4 jobs across the country, limiting people’s ability to find fulfillment by pursuing careers they’re most passionate about. The businesses that lobby for them say they’re necessary for public safety. While that’s true in some cases, their real intent is often to protect established businesses from new competition.

That didn’t sit well with Melony. As she puts it, “Just because something is, doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be.” So, she set out to change the law—and after seven long years, she finally won. The day after the reform was signed into law, more than 300 women became hair braiders themselves. Since then, 4,000 have benefited from that reform.

Video: Hear from Melony about her experience breaking barriers to opportunity

“Just because something is, doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be,” Melony remarked of the law.

Melony started working with Americans for Prosperity—part of the Stand Together community—in 2016 to build upon the good she had already done for so many. She helped successfully advocate for similar licensing reforms in other states that benefited two million people in total.

Breaking barriers for entrepreneurs is important. But what about those who have identified their passions, but simply lack the resources or know-how to start a business of their own?


Community nonprofits are stepping in to help

Alfa Demmellash knows firsthand the struggles many aspiring entrepreneurs endure. Born in Ethiopia, Alfa’s mother was a waitress and seamstress who struggled to make ends meet. When she was 12-years-old, her family immigrated to America.

Alfa made the most of the opportunity and went on to attend Harvard. After she graduated, she decided to commit her life to helping others like her mother—people from underserved communities who want to start and grow a business.

She and her co-founder, Alex Forrester, started Rising Tide Capital in 2004. So far, they’ve managed to help 2,700 entrepreneurs, many of whom face poverty.

The results speak for themselves: 80 percent of businesses that receive training and support from Rising Tide Capital survive beyond five years, compared to a national average of 50 percent. Meanwhile, their average household earnings increase by nearly 60 percent within two years.

Rising Tide Capital is one of 141 local groups supported by the Stand Together community. We’ve invested $100 million over the last three and a half years to support these effective groups helping people beat poverty.

Video: Rising Tide Capital creates economic opportunity by supporting low-income entrepreneurs

"One of the core beliefs that Alfa and I had when we started Rising Tide Capital was the idea of the infinite value and potential of each and every person."
– Alex Forrester, co-founder of Rising Tide Capital

There’s no single path to fulfilling work. For some, it’s starting a business. For others, it’s pursuing fields that require four-year degrees. And, for many more, it’s learning a trade.


Supporting opportunity in the skilled trades

Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame wants to help the next generation of K-12 students understand all of their options—including the skilled trades. There are 7.5 million open jobs across the country and many don’t require a college degree. It’s important to remember that a career in the trades can lead to success and financial security, as it does for millions of people each year. The mikeroweWORKS Foundation provides scholarships to students who want to learn a skilled trade that’s in demand.

And, it turns out that a lot of people are looking for this kind of opportunity. For instance, SkillsUSA—another organization supported by the Stand Together community—serves more than 360,000 students and instructors annually. Students showcase their skills on everything from robotics and automation technology to welding and masonry at competitions across the country. The program provides community support and encouragement for young people interested in skilled careers which are increasingly ignored in traditional school settings.

These are just two of many programs that are part of the Stand Together community that help people succeed in whatever fields of work are most fulfilling to them.

Video: See how Miguel Gomez is excelling in the skilled trades by embodying the values of Mike Rowe’s S.W.E.A.T Pledge

“We are motivated, we are dedicated,” said Isabelle, a SkillsUSA scholarship recipient, “and we are ready to improve our skills so we can get out there, we can take over these jobs, and we can make the world a better place.”

You can help meet the challenge

Social entrepreneurs are helping people find fulfillment by providing support through all stages of life—whether someone is a student, aspiring entrepreneur, employee, or a skilled trade professional. These bottom-up efforts started with one person, then engaged hundreds, and now along with many partners, they are poised to make a difference on a national scale.

By standing together and approaching the challenge from different angles, we can help people find fulfilling work so that every person can rise.

We still have a long way to go. What role can you play in driving more progress? And can Stand Together help you greater your good?SM Find out how we can help you launch or grow your own organization or support the most effective groups in the country.

Greater your good.

If you’re a social entrepreneur looking to start a new venture or want to increase your impact and effectiveness, find out how we can help connect you with the necessary support and resources.

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There are many ways you can make a difference on the issues you care about most. Partner with the Stand Together community to help supercharge some of the most effective organizations in the country.

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