In this Q&A, Grow with Google Director Jesse Haines shares everything you need to know about Google’s economic opportunity initiative.
What brought you to your current role at Grow with Google?
Jesse Haines: I’ve always been passionate about technology and understood the importance of digital skills early in my career as a high school teacher in Denver, Colorado. I was a Googler for over a decade before I joined the Grow with Google team, where I’m able to put my teaching experience to work by helping people grow their skills.
What is Grow with Google?
Haines: At Grow with Google, we want everyone to benefit from the opportunities created by technology, so we offer lots of different programs. Everything from helping small businesses find new customers to teaching students and job seekers skills they need to succeed.
We also have an amazing network of partner organizations–over 7,000 and counting. These are orgs like local libraries, schools, and nonprofits, and they help us share our resources with communities all across the country. Since we launched Grow with Google in 2017, we’ve trained more than four million Americans on digital skills. It’s something we’re really proud of. And we’re just getting started.
Does Grow with Google cost anything to use?
Haines: Grow with Google offers lots of free resources. Small business owners can get free personalized plans on the Google for Small Business site that help them stand out online, reach more customers, or work efficiently. We also offer some great tools like Google My Business, which helps you get listed online, and Market Finder, which helps you find customers around the world. Educators can also find free video lessons focused on digital basics through our Applied Digital Skills curriculum. And people looking to grow their business and digital marketing skills can find lessons on our Primer app. I love this tool–each lesson takes five minutes or less and you can do them right on your phone whenever you want–on the bus, at home, wherever.
Our Google IT Professional Certificates are available through Coursera who charges a monthly fee. To make these certificates accessible for everyone. Google provides financial aid and scholarships–last year we provided financial support for this training program to more than 10,000 people. That includes offering scholarships through nonprofits like the USO–the United Service Organizations–which offers training for transitioning military personnel and their spouses and several others.
How does Grow with Google help create pathways to jobs for people who don't have college degrees?
Haines: When we’re designing programs, we think both about training and about what comes after–the job search. The Google IT Professional Certificates training program offers both the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and the Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate. Once people earn a certificate, they can share their information directly with employers hiring for IT jobs. And we’re seeing how people can use these programs to change their lives. In Dallas, 19-year-old Solo Pieh completed the Google IT Support Professional Certificate as part of a systems administration course at his local community college. He earned the certificate and landed an IT-related internship, and four months in, he was offered a full-time role with the company. Stories like his make me so proud to do this work.
Tell us about the Grow with Google Partner Program. How does one become a Grow with Google Partner?
Haines: Our Grow with Google Partner Program offers free resources for local organizations like schools, libraries, chambers of commerce, downtown associations, and workforce development organizations. Partners receive everything they need to teach people the digital skills required to advance their careers, including training curriculum, program materials, and access to a support team to help them easily use our tools and curriculum, and bring them to their communities. Organizations can easily apply to join the Partner Program through our website.
Through the program, we've worked with thousands of partners across the country who are helping to close the digital skills divide, like Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Creating pathways to jobs is one of Reverend Dr. Jawanza Colvin’s top priorities, so to connect members of this community with the resources they need to compete for local IT jobs, he and the OHCDC teamed up with us to offer our IT Support training program locally. By creating cohorts of learners who are going through the curriculum together, the OHCDC helps people prepare for good jobs in a growing industry.
Is Grow with Google making an impact?
Haines: Since we launched this program in 2017, I’m so proud to say that we’ve helped more than four million Americans grow their skills and businesses. But what sticks with me most are people I’ve met along this journey who are changing their lives with a little help from our Grow with Google program. People like that of Chelsea Rucker in Clarksville, TN who went from struggling to find housing to finding a job as a Data Center Technician at Google–with some support from our partners at Goodwill and our IT support training program. Or U.S. Army veteran Daniel Sotoamaya, who worked with Grow with Google and the USO for support during his transition to civilian life and was one of the first people to test Google’s military code job search tool. Today, he has a job as a Customer Center Supervisor, using skills he learned during his 20-year military career. As we build new tools and resources, we’re doing so with people like Chelsea and Daniel in mind.