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October 29, 2014

SDWP CEO Peter Callstrom attended the Close It Summit on October 27 and 28 in Washington, D.C. The summit was a national call to action for those engaged in creating new pathways from education to employment. 

Building on momentum from the inaugural 2013 event, Close It 2014 focused on four key issues critical to jobs and employability in the U.S.:

  1. Youth employment
  2. Skills and credentials in high demand fields
  3. Increasing access and opportunity to curriculum and training
  4. The critical importance of soft skills

Guided by a theme of “disruption,” attendees were encouraged to question current methods and commit to more innovation and collaboration than ever before with a goal of closing the skills gap and increasing America’s global competitiveness.

“There is complementary overlap among workforce development, education and community-based organizations,” Callstrom says. “Gathering together in one place offers a unique opportunity to identify areas where we can further strengthen our collaborative efforts and work together to create better ways to bridge the skills gap.”

This year’s attendees brought thousands of years of combined experience in education, training, economic development and jobs to explore solutions to America’s lagging global competitiveness, which continues to be one of our country’s most pressing issues. Close It 2014 was about advancing more solutions that will increase our global competitiveness, creating employment and income for our citizens.

The Close It Summit is also home to Jobs Madness, a national contest designed to discover, elevate and reward radical new ways of disrupting the status quo in education and employment. Close It attendees and a panel of esteemed national judges determined the winners, who took home a combined $100,000 to further their projects. The winners were:

  • Grand prize winner: Mindsumo—an online platform that gives students an opportunity to work on solutions to real company problems in order to build a portfolio, gain experience
  • First-runner up: The Reset Foundation—rehabilitation campuses designed as a prison alternative focused on personal and professional success to break the cycle of incarceration and poverty
  • Second-runner up: Hirepurpose—a new kind of veteran employment service that seeks to transition veterans into in-demand industries poised to define the American economy

For more about the Close It Summit, visit

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