OnwardCO website provides resources for Coloradans during coronavirus pandemic

A new, one-stop website for Coloradans looking for resources to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic is now online.

The state teamed with Bitwise Industries, the Kapor Center and several Colorado businesses and foundations to launch OnwardCO.org, which went live Monday. The site has information about emergency services, including food, shelter and child care, as well as job training and job opportunities.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Human Services and 2-1-1 Colorado are some of the agencies working with Bitwise and the Kapor Center to provide a single platform for people to seek help and information.

“As we work to ensure the health and safety of Coloradans during these unprecedented times, it’s critical that we also help the economy recover. OnwardCO is a key tool in that effort,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.

Bitwise Industries is a Fresno,Calif.-based tech company that offers a computer coding boot camp focused on people who face hurdles to entering the field and runs a software consulting firm that employs many of its boot camp graduates. Jake Soberal, co-founder and CEO, said Bitwise joined forces with the Kapor Center, which also focuses on bringing more people into the high-tech field.

The organizations contacted governors and others about helping people and communities reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Soberal said.

“All of us felt a sense of ‘What can we do to meet the moment?’ Millions of our friends and neighbors are being left without jobs as a result of COVID-19,” Soberal said.

In Colorado, the unemployment rate rose to 4.5% in March, surpassing the U.S. unemployment rate for the first time since June 2005, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Between March 15 and April 11, more than 231,610 people filed initial claims for unemployment in the state.

California was the first state to collaborate on a site in conjunction with the high-tech organizations to help job-seekers, followed by Colorado. Soberal said he expects at least 25 other states to adopt the OnwardUS platform in the next few weeks. When the site was started in California a couple of weeks ago, the expectation was that about 10,000 people would use it in the first month and 100,000 in the second month.

“We have now served 300,000 in the first two weeks,” Soberal said.

Other partners in the project include MasterCard, Schmidt Futures, Twilio, Google, Indeed, Facebook, LinkedIn, the Zoma Foundation and the Catena Foundation.

Go to onwardco.org to learn more.

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