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  Digital Workforce Development Initiative Comes to Richmond
May 10, 2018

This summer, the Digital Workforce Development Initiative will launch in four cities, Richmond, Kansas City, Memphis and Stockton. Assembly District 15 candidate Buffy Wicks was able to get Richmond included on the list through contacts she made while working in the Obama administration.

Digital Workforce Development Initiative Launches to Expand Access to Freelance Opportunity, Increasing Earning Potential for Low-Income Individuals Through Skilled, Independent Work

May 09, 2018 11:00 ET | Source: Fiverr International Ltd

Coalition Convened By
Fiverr, the Largest Global Marketplace for Freelancers, Includes Online Teaching and Learning Platform Udemy, and San Francisco-Based Non-Profit Samaschool, Focuses on Workforce Readiness for the New Economy

Initiative to Launch This Summer as Multi-City Pilot Program in Kansas City, Memphis, and Richmond & Stockton, CA

SAN FRANCISCO, May 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, Fiverr announced the formation of the Digital Workforce Development Initiative (DWDI), a coalition comprised of Fiverr, Udemy and Samaschool. The new coalition will focus on specialized independent work: a new commitment to expanding access to the growing independent economy. As a freelance economy leader, Fiverr is convening the DWDI in response to the evolving professional landscape across the United States, one that demands increased accessibility and continued education to foster sustained success.  The initiative will work with municipalities across the United States to provide economic opportunity to unemployed and underemployed individuals, as well as those looking to transition away from traditional employment to independent work.

With over 94 percent of net job growth over the past decade attributable to the growth in independent work, this program comes at a time when many Americans across the country are eager for flexible opportunities that can help bolster household finances or even be a primary source of income. Underscoring this reality is Fiverr’s Freelance Economy Impact report, which found specialized independent workers — such as self-employed graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, and digital marketers — generated more than $110 billion in revenue across the 15 biggest American cities for specialized independent work. With an average revenue growth rate (11 percent) that outpaced national wage growth (9 percent) for the time period (2013-2015), it’s clear specialized independent workers are succeeding across some of America’s largest cities. However, the potential encompassed by freelance and independent work has not been harnessed evenly across the country.

“Independent work is growing globally, but with much of the work currently done offline, a few major hubs of economic activity have arisen,” said Brent Messenger, Fiverr’s Global Head of Community. “Whether due to a lack of education, local opportunities, or access to other resources, the current playing field for freelance and independent work isn’t a level one. At Fiverr, we are committed to seeing a truly global, inclusive, high-skilled freelance community where everyone can benefit from the ability to pursue a passion and turn it into a sustainable business. That’s why partnering with Udemy and Samaschool to bring great earning opportunities to a broader and more diverse group of people is such an important initiative.”

“Udemy is proud to be the education partner to the Digital Workforce Development Initiative, ensuring participants have anytime access to the latest skills and training,” said Kevin H. Johnson, CEO of Udemy. “Whether you’re looking to turn a passion into a job, join the independent workforce, or take your entrepreneurship to the next level, more than 30,000 expert Udemy instructors can help you do just that.”

“Samaschool is thrilled to bring our unique expertise in equipping populations with barriers for independent work to this initiative,” said Lindsey Crumbaugh, Samaschool’s Managing Director. “We are excited to make our signature Freelancing 101 course, which focuses on essential independent work skills like personal branding and client management, widely available to jobseekers across the country.”

The Digital Workforce Development Initiative (DWDI) is designed to support local economies by partnering with cities and other stakeholders — such as non-profits, economic development engines, and workforce development agencies — to provide the tools necessary for success in freelance and independent work to a broader, more diverse population. One of the project’s goals is to help grow local independent economies by encouraging more low-income individuals, including women and people of color, to gain the necessary skills and experience to support themselves through skilled independent work. DWDI will support people along a continuum of skills and experience levels; the program is well-positioned to assist those looking to monetize a passion, take an entrepreneurial endeavor to the next level, or provide initial support to individuals as they learn a brand new skill. DWDI hopes to demonstrate that freelance and independent work can be a sustainable, achievable and rewarding career for many.

DWDI will provide step-by-step support, guidance and mentorship for communities in partner cities through:

  • Free in-person workshops, seminars and networking events
  • A mentorship program that pairs top sellers on Fiverr with individuals who are just starting out as freelancers
  • A specially-curated series of comprehensive modules covering every aspect of starting up and running your own freelance business or consultancy, all available online via Samaschool
  • Online master courses from top Udemy instructors in specific skill sets valuable in today’s freelance, creative and business services economy (e.g. graphic design, web development, video production, search engine optimization, digital marketing, etc.)
  • Accelerated on-boarding to the Fiverr platform, allowing freelancers to begin growing their portfolios and earning potential immediately

“Throughout the 1940s, thousands of workers from all over the country came to Richmond and picked up a set of tools to contribute to our nation's economy in a big way," said Mayor Tom Butt of Richmond, California, one of DWDI’s pilot city partners. “Today, we hope to make a 21st century toolbox available to all our residents through the Digital Workforce Development Initiative. By empowering people to create a sustainable, independent career, they'll be joining millions of other Americans who are propelling our economy.”

“With a focus on innovative programs and initiatives to support workforce training and education, Kansas City is excited to partner on the Digital Workforce Development Initiative pilot program to bring the knowledge and know-how of skilled independent work to our communities,” said Drew Solomon, Senior Vice President of Business and Job Development at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. “With independent work becoming an increasingly important and growing sector of the economy, we’re thrilled to bring the tools of the trade to our city and ensure that more people have the freedom and flexibility to pursue their passions and goals in an economically sustainable way.”

“As an entrepreneurial hub, Epicenter exists to help grow and nurture the ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs in the Memphis region and ensure business-building opportunities are available to all of our citizens,” added Leslie Lynn Smith, President and CEO of Epicenter. “We’re excited to help pilot the Digital Workforce Development Initiative in our region, connecting freelancers and creative entrepreneurs — who are a critical part of our local economy and entrepreneurial community — to educational resources and programs that can help build their businesses."

Nationwide, self-employment has increased by 34 percent since 2001. Looking to the near future, independent workers are expected to comprise over 40 percent of the economy by 2020.  The majority of people engaging in independent work do so by choice, according to a number of recent studies, and in fact 1 in 6 people currently employed in a traditional setting would prefer to become primary independent earners. DWDI partner Samaschool, a San Francisco-based non-profit, conducted a survey of 500+ Samaschool alumni, 59 percent of whom had been unemployed for a median of nine months when beginning the program.  By the end of the program, 85 percent of alumni reported being satisfied to very satisfied with the earning potential of their independent work.

About DWDI’s Founding Members:


Fiverr is the world’s largest marketplace for creative and digital services, including graphic design, copywriting, voice overs, and music and film editing. Fiverr’s mission is to empower the doer in us all by giving entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses and even enterprises the resources they need to get things done.


Udemy is a global marketplace for learning and teaching online where students are mastering new skills and achieving their goals by learning from an extensive library of over 65,000 courses taught by expert instructors.


Samaschool is a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose mission is to equip people to earn a living wage through independent work. Samaschool’s training materials are designed to prepares low-income people and those with barriers with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to navigate the world of independent work..

Sam Katzen
Phone Number: +1 925-389-6887