Jobs Now! Workers Keep Working -- Thanks to Grants

Categories: Government
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You may have heard that federal funding for the Jobs Now! -- the program that allows employers to pay workers with federal stimulus dollars -- expired Friday, waiting for Congress to pass a bill to renew the program.

While employers nationwide expected they'd have to let go employees hired under the federal program, more than 100 workers at San Francisco's biggest user of the program, the Internet Archive, will continue scanning books into the digital library today like there is, indeed, a tomorrow.

That's because the organization was able to keep all but one of roughly 135 stimulus dollar-funded employees due to a grant from Craigslist Foundation and the Kahle/Austin Foundation, says the Internet Archive director of books Robert Miller. (Apparently, Miller didn't have the same issues with Craigslist as a San Francisco women's nonprofit, which recently burned a check from the online classified giant.)   

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Get to work, people...
The bad news is that the temporary funding -- the amount of which Miller wouldn't disclose -- will only pay the employees for a maximum of 90 days. Miller and other employers are hopeful Congress will vote to renew the program by then.

Miller is what you could call a Jobs Now! proselytizer. He says the Jobs Now! program has been a "game-changer" for the nonprofit dedicated to making every book ever published available online for free. The Jobs Now! program (yes, editorial integrity requires us keep putting that exclamation point there!) has allowed him to grow his 10-employee nonprofit to a 145-worker venture. They've moved from a small building in the Presidio to a 20,000 square-foot former Christian Science church in the Richmond. They've gotten so much scanning done, that the archive hit the million book-mark just last week!!! (We're thinking that deserves three exclamation points.)

"This is not a handout but a hand-up program," Miller says. "If we let them go, they go back on unemployment and then their confidence goes down, and there's no discretionary spending. When you have a job, you have confidence, you can pay your bills and taxes and have confidence in the economy With over two-thirds of the GDP being driven by consumer spending, that's a much more efficient way of stimulating the economy than with a tax credit." 

Miller says he "unfortunately," had to let one Jobs Now! employee go this week, because the temporary foundation funding wouldn't cover her position. As for everyone else, they'll be celebrating their million-book benchmark this week with a celebration. Miller says the details are "still under wraps," but we're envisioning the scanning of a large cake. 

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