6 minute read

Fathom Highlights NSF-Funded Research on National Workforce Development at JFF’s 2022 Horizon Conference

Fathom shines at Horizon Conference 2022, unveiling research on workforce challenges & proposing blockchain solutions.
Published by
Fathom PBC
Published on
June 14, 2022
Published in
Nashville, TN

Fathom recently took center stage at the 2022 Horizon Conference presented by Jobs for the Future (JFF). Julie Dunlap, Fathom's co-founder and Director of Research, illuminated the audience with key insights from Fathom's NSF I-Corps research, addressing the complexities of the modern labor market.

Julie presented to a packed room of workforce stakeholders, shedding light on the challenges faced in workforce development, from disparate education and employment data to the pressing need for interoperable systems. The major finding of Fathom's research spotlighted the overwhelming number of unique credentials in use, the challenges they create across isolated institutions, and the barriers they create for learners, earners, and front-line providers. View the presentation below.

A standout moment for Fathom was their introduction to their NSF SBIR Proposal, detailing an innovative approach to harness blockchain technology to streamline workforce case management and reporting. The proposal emphasizes the role of Verifiable Credentials and LER Wallets in helping workforce participants document, verify, and share their credentials seamlessly.

After Julie's spotlight presentation, Josh Copus, Senior Director at JFF, and Sharon Leu, former Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education Innovation at the U.S. Department of Education and Executive in Residence at JFFLabs, Sharon Leu, both of whom participated in Fathom's NSF I-Corps research, invited the Fathom team to join their Plugfest LER initiative. This initiative aims to develop a skills-based talent marketplace by integrating W3C Verifiable Credentials in the Open Badges v3 format and Decentralized Identifiers to wallets using protocols popular in the education and workforce ecosystem. More on the initiative here.

During the event, Fathom's newly recruited CTO, John Morales-Marquez, fostered a pivotal relationship with Arkansas' Chief Data Officer, Robert McGough, gleaning insights into the public workforce system's data infrastructure. This newfound partnership culminated in a significant letter of support from Charisse Childers, Director of the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, for Fathom's NSF SBIR Proposal.

Furthermore, CEO JoAdel Adeola had the opportunity to connect with JFF's CEO, Maria Flynn, after her inaugural speech. Their conversation hinted at a promising collaboration between JFF and Fathom, which was solidified with another letter of support for Fathom's NSF SBIR proposal.

Among the numerous connections Fathom fostered at the conference, a notable reunion occurred with Peter Blair, Harvard professor and co-director of The Project on Workforce. Blair, who had previously engaged with Fathom during their 2020 NSF I-Corps research, met with the team to explore future advisory roles and mentorship opportunities for JoAdel.

In photo: Omari Byrd, Peter Blair, JoAdel Adeola, Julie Dunlap, and John Morales-Marquez

Horizon's ethos, rooted in promoting equitable economic advancement, resonated deeply with Fathom's mission. The conference served as a testament to the need for innovative solutions that address pressing challenges, ensuring that every individual, regardless of background, has equal access to opportunities.

The Fathom team's participation and success at the conference reinforce their commitment to creating equitable opportunities for learners and workers. They continue to seek collaboration for their upcoming pilot study and welcome all interested parties to connect.

For those interested in learning more about Fathom's endeavors or exploring partnership opportunities, please visit

For further insights from the 2022 Horizon Conference, please refer to JFF's Horizon Blog.

About Fathom:

Fathom is a workforce innovation company offering universal talent management solutions for the World of Work. Their unique approach seeks to eliminate barriers in the education-to-employment ecosystem and pave the way for upward career mobility. 

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