Social ‘Wyze’ wants ARPA money thrown at Norman | New
The developer of an app-based program that connects workers and employers hopes to get started in Norman, but said he would need investment from the community first.
Cody Merrill founded Social Wyze, a startup in Dallas, with the goal of preventing people from losing their homes by quickly finding them jobs with low barriers to employment.
Local partners such as nonprofits, businesses or municipalities invest dollars in a community fund to launch a “Transitional Public Benefits” employment program. Social Wyze receives an additional 12 cents for every dollar paid in salary and not on the full amount of the fund up front, Merrill said. Social Wyze is a for-profit company, but Merrill pointed out that the company doesn’t get paid unless the employees are paid.
In a proposal to Mayor Breea Clark, which she shared with Norman City Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Merrill asked the city to fund $ 250,000 in US dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. Its goal is to raise $ 1.1 million in ARPA money from state, county and charitable partners.
Jobs tend to be low-barrier – friendly for people who are overlooked for the job – and those who don’t require highly skilled labor, Merrill told The Transcript.
Although the jobs are temporary, the goal for employees is to build a resume, learn skills and eventually find stable employment in the private sector.
The recommended wage for workers is $ 14 per hour up to 500 hours.
The model aims to prevent a person from becoming homeless, but also to encourage them to find permanent employment, the proposal says.
The demand for these workers is often found in the nonprofit or “public benefit” sector like Restorative Farms in South Dallas, an impoverished part of the city.
Founder Owen Lynch hired newly released criminals to work at his nonprofit urban farm startup. The goal of the program is to provide fresh, affordable food and sell it directly to consumers.
Lynch said he was happy with the employees he hired through Social Wyze. The app helps an employer “review employees much faster” and, through the payroll assistance, has allowed Restorative Farms to reinvest money to further develop sustainable jobs and expand the program. Much of the money was used to train workers, who excelled, he said.
“They are really an accelerator for job growth in the urban area,” Lynch said. “It’s a great symbiotic relationship. One of our workers, for example, now runs a farm.
Another employee will soon be managing the seedling farm, which cultivates the seedlings and prepares the crops for each farm.
Merrill said Restorative Farms is just one example of how Social Wyze can provide a workforce to grow an organization – and the people who run it.
“What we found in Dallas is that it’s very easy for [employers] increase whenever they know they have a reliable workforce, ”he said. “They can go up and down on demand to eliminate projects. Our community garden partners have significantly expanded their activities. The tree planting group we work with has done a lot more tree initiatives in schools.
Employers have used Social Wyze to hire workers to clean up parks, lakes, and forests, to name a few.
“There is no shortage of public works that need to be completed,” Merrill said.
Social Wyze fills a need that fundraising often doesn’t. It is easier to raise funds for capital projects or programs (demonstrated results for donors) rather than salaries. Projects are more difficult to complete amid a continuing decline in volunteering, Merril and Lynch said.
As the council contemplates an inevitable lifting of the moratorium on evictions, Social Wyze could be part of the plan to alleviate housing insecurity linked to the pandemic, Clark said on Tuesday evening.
As some studies suggest, homelessness is expensive. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness cited a 2017 study that found it costs taxpayers between $ 30,000 and $ 50,000 per person per year.
“There is so much value destroyed in society when we let people slip through the cracks, be kicked out, put their whole families through massive trauma that will impact their lives, their education and the outcomes of their lives. crime, ”Merrill said. “This is what we aim to solve.”
Social Wyze is a young startup that was fully funded a year ago by philanthropist Mark Cuban. It has “hundreds of users and 30 nonprofit partners,” Merrill said in the four and a half months since it became fully operational. The Dallas-based community fund is hosted by the nonprofit EarthX, founded by Trammell Crow, of Trammell Crow Company, a real estate investment and development company.
Merrill said his company is working on tracking user success in the form of data, but “at the end of the day we have a system that works and all of our nonprofits and workers are extremely happy. We are witnessing amazing human transformations. In order to take our mission to the next level, we really need to become this government-led mix of peers, not just funded by philanthropic funds. “