New York, NY


Education and Jobs Advocacy Organization

Project Of:

New Venture Fund


Executive Director:

Beth Colbert

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Skillful, previously known as the Skillful Fund Project, is a job training program which partners with major corporations and institutions such as leading retail store chain Walmart, software giant Microsoft, professional networking social media platform LinkedIn, and Purdue University in Indiana. As the Skillful Fund Project, the program was originally a fiscally sponsored initiative of the New Venture Fund, a leading left-of-center philanthropic organization and nonprofit incubator. 1 2

Skillful operates in Indiana and Colorado and has created collaboration with governors in 20 states. It works to provide skills training for workforce enablement. 3

2021 Rebrand

As of 2021, Skillful is under the management of the Markle Foundation, a philanthropic organization which promotes information technology-focused projects that advance left-of-center policies related to the economy, the healthcare system, and national security. The organization has many education and workforce initiatives. Beth F. Colbert, the chief operating officer of the Markle Foundation, also serves as the chief executive officer of Skillful. Members of the foundation’s Workforce Initiatives Advisory Board, which oversees Skillful and other related projects, include: 4

  • Brad Smith, president of software giant Microsoft
  • Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, a major left-of-center philanthropy
  • Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and the former Republican governor of Indiana
  • James Manyika, director of the global consulting firm McKinsey and Company
  • Penny Pritzker, United States Secretary of Commerce under the Obama Administration

Press Coverage

Skillful has received favorable coverage from leading left-of-center publications such as the New York Times and The Hill, as well as news channel CNBC and grantmaking industry publication Philanthropy News Digest. The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, an advocacy group made up of business and political leaders pushing for governments and corporations to adopt left-progressive principles, has also endorsed Skillful. 5


The New Venture Fund has disclosed the five top donors to Skillful. The Walmart Foundation, the charitable arm of the retail giant of the same name, has given at least $1.6 million in support of the project. The Rockefeller Foundation, a leading left-of-center philanthropic organization, has given the NVF at least $1 million designated for Skillful, as has the Markle Foundation. The Tides Foundation, another major left-of-center philanthropy, and the Lumina Foundation have both given at least $500,000. 6

In addition, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has given several grants to the NVF in support of Skillful, including $50,000 in October 2017 for general support to the project, as well as another $50,000 in December 2018 to support the project’s Rework America Task Force. 7 The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation awarded the NVF a grant of $250,000 grant in 2020, also in support of Rework America. 8 The Alper Family Foundation, a smaller grantmaking organization based in Silver Spring, Maryland, gave the NVF a grant of $10,000 in 2018 for general support to Skillful. 9


  1. Skillful. Markle Foundation. Accessed September 13, 2021.
  2. “Largest Donors To Skillful Fund Project.” New Venture Fund. Accessed September 13, 2021.
  3. Skillful. Markle Foundation. Accessed September 13, 2021. Providing Opportunity in the Digital Economy | Markle | Advancing America’s Future
  4. Skillful. Markle Foundation. Accessed September 13, 2021.
  5. Skillful. Markle Foundation. Accessed September 13, 2021.
  6. “Largest Donors To Skillful Fund Project.” New Venture Fund. Accessed September 13, 2021.
  7. New Venture Fund. Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Accessed September 13, 2021.
  8. Skillful LLC. Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. Accessed September 13, 2021.
  9. [1] Alper Family Foundation Inc. Grantmakers. Accessed September 13, 2021.
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