Tech startup gives work opportunities to overlooked communities


CHICAGO —  Earlier this year, the tech startup ‘Rise Kit’ came online with the mission of helping overlooked communities of all types find employment.

“We thought if we could build a software from the bottom up… we can help overlooked job seekers,” said Matt Strauss, founder and CEO of ‘Rise Kit.’

At its heart, ‘Rise Kit’ is a software company with an altruistic mission to link employers with the underserved communities they want to hire.

Henry Florez, an IT professional, served four months for being charged with mortgage fraud. Once he got out, he quickly learned the weight of that sentence.

“It made me feel like justice is for the rich,” Florez said. “You serve four months, but you’re really serving for the rest of your life.”

The Chicago Urban League’s Andrew Wells saw the potential in Henry and his background in IT and looked beyond the background check.

“If you’re going into an interview blindly and don’t have connections with a community-based organization, once they pull your background up, they might not trust you at that point,” Wells said.

Right now, the city of Chicago is their biggest client, partnering with several nonprofits like the Chicago Urban League. Soon Memphis, Milwaukee and Evanston will soon join the ranks, with ‘Rise Kit’ being the connection.

Read more: Latest Chicago news headlines

Henry is now the IT career development specialist with ‘Rise Kit.’

“I’ve already been a fighter,” Florez said. “You just have to find one person to say yes.”

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