Nonprofit COOP Careers Launches in Chicago, Helps Recent College Graduates Secure Full Time Employment in Tough Job Market

  • Through the expanded partnership of long-term COOP Careers employers such as IPG Mediabrands, COOP’s free post-graduate program helps low-income and first-generation college graduates secure jobs in digital marketing

CHICAGO, Sept. 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, COOP Careers, a national nonprofit that helps recent college graduates overcome underemployment through digital skills and peer connections, brings its free, proven program to low-income and first-generation graduates in the Chicago area.

With its partners, COOP Careers is building the future of the Chicago digital economy, one that embraces local graduates. The majority of graduates in the program reflect the city’s vibrant culture: The participants are 96% people of color and 92% first-generation graduates. These are all individuals starkly underrepresented in the marketing industry. As Gen Z graduates into the workforce, a generation that is almost 50% people of color, it is vital they receive mentorship opportunities (which improve compensation, promotion rates and more), enter workplaces that reflect their communities, and accumulate social capital, initially provided by COOP Careers alumni.

IPG Mediabrands will be a key volunteer and employer partner for the local program. It will donate hands-on training and mentoring to the inaugural COOP Careers cohort to help improve diversity in the marketing industry. Several other of COOP Careers’ long-time employer partners, including Publicis, GroupM, NBC Universal, Centro, and HK Strategies will also provide volunteer support. Higher education institutions including the University of Illinois Chicago, National Louis University and the Illinois Institute of Technology will support COOP Careers’ outreach and recruiting efforts.

“Chicago has a booming digital economy, but that doesn’t mean local college graduates get a seat at the table. Underemployment and student debt fall harder on communities of color, and the wealth gap between Black and white grads has grown dramatically over the last generation,” said Kalani Leifer, founder and CEO of COOP Careers. “Building a meaningful career is difficult, but it shouldn’t be lonely. COOP brings together local, first-gen grads to develop digital skills and peer connections — and ultimately to overcome underemployment.”

Within a year, 80% of COOP Careers’ alumni become fully employed at companies like Microsoft, TikTok, Omnicom, and Publicis. Prior to the program, COOP Careers’ participants earn a median salary of $15,000 and work at a job that doesn’t require their college degree. One year post-program, COOP Careers alumni earn a median salary of $45,000, triple their pre-program salary.

To become a COOP Careers partner, sponsor or participant, or to find out more, visit

About COOP Careers
COOP Careers (pronounced ko-op) closes the social capital gap by recruiting and investing deeply in low-income and first-generation grads from CUNY, Cal State, and other urban public colleges. It connects recent graduates with employers looking for motivated, prepared, diverse candidates. More importantly, COOP Careers connects underrepresented college grads to each other across generations of program alumni. The nonprofit has over 2,000 alumni nationwide and aiming to serve 10,000 by 2024. Its flagship program trains graduates in digital marketing, tech sales and data analytics. COOP Careers has been recognized by Google, LinkedIn, the Gates Foundation, and the Christensen Institute as a best-in-class program in its field. Founder Kalani Leifer was selected as one of 20 Obama Foundation Fellows, among 20,000 applicants. Learn more at

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