Google’s Career Certificates Initiative


With support from the $100 million Google Career Certificates Fund, Social Finance aims to empower more than 20,000 learners to realize over $1 billion in aggregate wage gains over the next decade. Google Career Certificates are industry-recognized credentials that prepare people for in-demand, entry-level jobs in the fields of data analytics, IT support, project management, and user experience design.

Learners enroll with a training provider partner to earn a certificate with no upfront training costs. The certificate courses feature skills training for high-growth careers; no-interest financing to be repaid only if trainees land a job earning at least $40,000 a year; and wraparound supports that can include employment-related services, such as living stipends, child care support, interview preparation, and job placement assistance.

MDRC is designing a rigorous evaluation of the program to assess its effectiveness in supporting economic mobility for learners who have been historically underrepresented in the technology sector.

Google is funding the initiative. Social Finance is designing the initiative to deploy funding toward optimal student outcomes.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

The Google Career Certificates Fund aims to create a more equitable job market and to prepare learners, especially those from underserved backgrounds, for in-demand, high-wage-growth jobs.  

MDRC, in partnership with Social Finance, will design and conduct an evaluation of the program to address research questions such as:

  • What are the effects of the program on employment, earnings, and wage growth?
  • What is the effect of the program on use of public benefits, such as unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and others?
  • What are the effects of the program on social determinants of health, including food security, housing stability, and physical and mental well-being?
  • How has the program been effective at addressing equity and diversification in the technology sector? Do program effects differ across gender, race, and key subgroups defined by communities underrepresented in the technology sector?

Additionally, MDRC will conduct data analytics to explore how the program’s training, wraparound services, and financing components are related to learners’ program performance, completion, and employment outcomes.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

The research design will explore measuring program effects through an impact evaluation. The research design and analysis will rely on baseline data about learners collected during study intake, program activity data from the providers, perspectives of learners, program staff, and other stakeholders, a survey of study participants, and administrative data on earnings.

The inaugural training providers in the evaluation are Year Up and Merit America.