Economic Uplift

Tech Jobs Tour + Place-Based Engagement + Connectivity

TechJobsTour has one main goal: Help innovative companies hire America's diverse & nontraditional talent. Right now America has over 500,000 open tech jobs - by 2020 this number will grow to over 1 million. At the time same time, over 60% of all new coders, engineers and data scientists are emerging from bootcamps and industry-current vocational schools.

Innovative local teams in different parts of the country are driving economic growth, economic inclusion, and solving complex challenges. Connecting and supporting local innovators working on solutions in all sectors (econ • social • enviro)  is critical.

shift7 takes a scout & scale approach, connecting ecosystems, sharing programs and support with innovative talent everywhere -- working to accelerate what's working and connecting communities of practice.


Tech Jobs Tour

In 8 months the Tech Jobs Tour, created by Leanne Pittsford, engaged in 25 cities, connected over 15,000 Americans locally in direct economic uplift, and proved this model. Stops included Birmingham, Charleston WV, Denver, Milwaukee, Oakland, Memphis, Cheyenne, Portland, Cleveland, and more. We have incredible learnings to build on in 2018 as the tour extends to +25 more cities.


The tour connects the current and next generation of technical talent - which is more diverse - with local employers, local tech mentors, local innovators and local officials who can learn new methods. shift7 does not run the tour, we deeply collaborate on each stop and accelerate its success as a core partner.

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At the event

The programming is co-led by veterans of grassroots organizing who also come from the innovation sector. We use spaces that are accessible (less intimidating) like small concert halls or bars, & specifically program in the evening, all free and open to the general public. We facilitate one-on-one ‘speed mentoring’ where attendees receive rapid feedback, insight, and support on how to navigate their job search + career. Attendees also give direct feedback to corporate sponsors on how they might better engage with non-traditional talent. The sentiment is fun, warm, and creates space for optimism and possibility.


Including everyone

Our approach differs from most tech job fairs because we take a hyperlocal focus. In our grassroots outreach, we invite a slate of community leaders that fully represent the makeup of the market. As a result, our events are far more diverse than traditional tech events. When averaged across markets, our demographic profile trends toward: 46% female, 25% LGBTQ, 36% people of color, 80% entry level, 20% mid level, 85% technical, 15% non-technical. Since inception, our career fair sponsors include Airbnb, Amazon, Nike, JP Morgan, Venmo, Amazon, Microsoft, and Automattic. (Sponsorship Information: 2018 National Partnership)


2017 by the numbers

  • 25 cities
  • 40,000 people engaged
  • 2,200 mentors
  • 162 companies hiring
  • 140 community partners and bootcamps
  • 15,000+ Americans connected

For updates on tour stops and dates, check out

Place-based engagement

All regions and neighborhoods of the country have entrepreneurial capacity and ingenuity in community champions who already have great work-in-progress or insightful plans. We scout for that talent and introduce them to the networks and tools they need (local and beyond). Connecting talent to resources catalyzes the scaling of their innovative work for maximum impact to solve our nation’s most pressing problems, and promotes economic prosperity in any region.  

Place-based collaborations include:

  • short engagements (such as 1-day visits) where we move around a city or community and connect with many different local players, including local businesses, schools, incubator spaces, startups, community anchor institutions, civic leadership, and more. These visits are often in tandem with the TechJobsTour stops.  

  • connecting various communities-of-practice who are solving similar challenges, such as talent working to advance agriculture, health-care, entrepreneurship, and more. Here’s a knowledge product piece the teams wrote when in government, which shares many types of great innovative communities-of-practice: Try This At Home: Local Scouting Solutions and Rapidly Scaling What’s Already Working

Watch  video  of walk-about around local community civic engagement and incubator spaces in Atlanta, GA

Watch video of walk-about around local community civic engagement and incubator spaces in Atlanta, GA


Access to the Internet has become absolutely essential to participation in the global economy, yet there are communities across the country, and the world, that are not connected. One of the challenges slowing deployment speed is that the principal/executive-level of policy, NGO, and government teams do not include enough (or sometimes any) core team members with technical (TQ) talent and direct, modern, scaled deployment broadband experience.

The Connectivity Corps proposal seeks to accelerate global efforts to expand Internet connectivity by embedding top engineering talent in leadership at high levels and connecting to relevant (technical) stakeholders on the ground. This Connectivity Corps would act as a lean technical/architectural group participating in and supporting country and industry efforts to improve local and global broadband infrastructure and Internet policies, and to realize the full latent potential of prior investments and accelerate ongoing efforts. It would consider many different intersectional issues in connectivity, with its major emphasis on immediate implementation opportunities with technology available today -- those which are widely distributed for many people in the world and under-distributed for so many others.

Our colleague    Vanu Bose  with other leaders in broadband connectivity deployment innovation in Rwanda. We honor his memory.

Our colleague Vanu Bose with other leaders in broadband connectivity deployment innovation in Rwanda. We honor his memory.

Global Internet penetration. Internet Society map data source: ITU 2014 using 2013 data.

Global Internet penetration. Internet Society map data source: ITU 2014 using 2013 data.

What kinds of projects would Connectivity Corps focus on (through burst sprints, short fellowships and event inclusion)?

  • Participating in broadband connectivity policy conversations as a technical principal.

  • Sharing public recommendations on opportunities for higher performance, lower cost, and faster broadband deployments to significantly improve existing and future investments.

  • Creating publicly available reference designs for common broadband implementations – such as a few recommended standards for schools, rural areas, and urban areas – including pricing and terrestrial/sub-terrestrial options.

  • Provide input on regulatory challenges, opportunities, and risks for international projects.

  • Identify and map opportunities for aggregated demand to increase opportunity in unconnected areas.

  • Sometimes design and architect technical solutions, negotiate commercial terms with suppliers, spearhead the legal contract review process, and ensure the proper delivery of services and/or solutions.

  • Coach or consult on commercial relationships with a number of vendors, identify unique opportunities for partnership or expansion with these vendors, and work with the vendors to find mutually beneficial solutions to meeting the Government’s requirements.

  • Advise on and improve application, permitting, structure bids, and contract policies and practices.

Work on the connectivity corp started with a range of project explorations both inside the US government (with USDA, DOI, and others) as well as through jointly catalyzing a multi-party Global Connect initiative launched in 2016 with many partners: Global Connect Stakeholders: Advancing Solutions (IEEE hosting) and Global Connect Initiative - Kickoff Meeting Links and Overview.

2017-2018 update
We’ve made exploratory progress with our Connectivity Corps insights to engage a broader group which is now moving forward on initial set-up with IEEE engagement in 2018 of the “Connectivity Coalition.”

The Connectivity Corps needs experienced field capable technical leaders who have personally implemented technology solutions in recent years at scale and who understand current industry costs, status, architectures which have been recently deployed in regions -- including both backhaul expertise as well as last mile.