© 2021 COGNIZANT FOUNDATION
The Cognizant Foundation works to ensure all individuals have equitable opportunity to thrive in the digital economy.
We believe the tech industry can serve as an engine to unlock economic opportunity and expand equity in communities around the world. But that won’t happen unless we rethink the existing pipelines into the sector and the pathways through it—that’s why our work focuses so heavily on supporting historically excluded and underrepresented populations.
Not only do we have to create more inclusive pipelines and better pathways within existing systems, but we must also fundamentally rethink and change how our education and career systems work together. To do this, we focus our grantmaking on three key areas—pipelines, pathways and systems change.
A growing body of research indicates that early identity plays a powerful role in the jobs and careers we ultimately have. To expand and diversify the pipeline into fields like technology, more people need to be able to see themselves in the work—and that needs to start early on. For this reason, we invest in programs that present primary, secondary and high school students with engaging computer science, technology and digital curriculum. We also support teachers as they develop competency in computer science and in learning about the range of possibilities technology careers offer, so that they can inspire students and support them in pursuing those fields.
We fund career exploration that both exposes students to jobs in the tech sector and helps them understand how to build the networks they need to secure and thrive in those roles. This work is built on the basic idea that we do not lack the talented people needed to fill critical roles in technology—we just have to bring them into the pipeline starting at an early age. If this work is successful, more people of all ages will not only aspire to pursue careers in technology, but also have the foundational skills they need to grow into the field.
People have heard the message that education is the key to financial stability and career mobility, but too few know where to start or they lack access to the educational programs and social capital that would open up pathways into meaningful, high-growth careers. In the tech industry, especially, the challenge is multi-layered, as are the solutions. We work with employers to more clearly signal the skills that are driving the jobs of the future and with education providers to ensure curricula and training programs align with industry demand.
We also support models that expand access to the advising and coaching, skill development and social capital that individuals need in order to successfully transition into and across the tech industry. Ultimately, more people need access to equitable career pathways and employers need to clearly outline the steps individuals need to take to develop in-demand transferable skills. If this work is successful, every individual interested in a career in technology will be able to see a clear pathway to success, no matter their background.
We must improve career pathways and build equitable pipelines—but more than that, we need fundamental systems change. We’re educating too many people for jobs and ways of work that no longer exist, and our systems still expect most people to have “completed” their education before ever starting a career. And yet, we know that careers today and into the future will require people to regularly upskill, retool or completely reimagine their work. Already, the half-life of learned skills today is only about five years, and falling.
Automation, data and the incorporation of technology in just about every aspect of the economy are forcing major shifts in the very nature of work. And these technological advancements will continue to be both rapid and seismic in their collective impact. The foundation brings together cross-industry groups to research and recommend ways to redesign primary and secondary education, higher education, public policy and workforce systems. If this work is successful, our systems will no longer operate in silos, but instead will allow people to move seamlessly between education and career—enabling them to learn, upskill and reskill, unlocking new opportunities across a lifetime.
The Cognizant Foundation currently invests in organizations based in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany working to deliver industry-relevant education, technical skills training programs and critical research needed to modernize the ways we educate and employ our workforce. Below are some of our great grantee partners.