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Raise Your Flag

Raise Your Flag connects young people who are not going to college with meaningful career paths, companies that are hiring and jobs at each step of the path. Approx. 45% of students in US and Canada do not go to college after high school. Instead, they enter the workforce. These students leave school completely unaware of their options, unprepared for the transition and uninspired to take action. These students leave school hopeless. Raise Your Flag gives hope to work-bound students by arming them with everything they need to start a career path they're stoked about.

Photo of Ryan Porter
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Raise Your Flag is a web-based application that creates connections from where work-bound students are to where they want to be. 

Users use Raise Your Flag to explore opportunities for meaningful work that does not require a degree or diploma, collect the ones that are most interesting and build their own personal career path. They also discover what training and certification is required, where to get it, what companies are hiring and where the job opportunities are right now. 

Raise Your Flag will also help users discover their personal working preferences and the ability to acquire the most in-demand work skills.

Raise Your Flag closes the the giant gap between high school and meaningful work for an employer who recognizes the value of young workers. 


Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

Young people (16-24) who did not attend college are given the same support that their college-bound counterparts are given. This results in a lowered youth-unemployment rate, higher young employee tenure and increased excitement for the school-to-work transition. Education benefits as they are now given a resource to help the overwhelming large population of students who do not pursue formal post-secondary education. Employers benefit as they are now connecting with young people who have identified an interest in their company, who are aware of the long-term career possibilities within their companies and who will stay with their companies longer.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

The general idea of a career "pathway" exists in so few places online. The word "pathway" has somehow lost its tangible properties. What is an actual career pathway? Where is the data that supports career pathways? What pathways exist in which industries and within which specific companies? Raise Your Flag answers these questions. Raise Your Flag visually identifies career pathways from entry-level positions to management opportunities and beyond. Each pathway is built using labor market information, career databases, or social graph data. Employer sponsored career pathways are supplied directly by the sponsoring company. Raise Your Flag takes the somewhat abstract idea of a career pathway and turns it into a tangible, actionable process with clear entry points and clear line of promotion and advancement.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We are currently testing the market with Raise Your Flag and have a working application at

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

We believe the OpenIDEO community can provide is with: 1. The true needs of our user base beyond static information and a growing database of opportunities. 2. The needs of the education community. What is it that we could do for education specifically to make sure they are getting career pathway information to as many students as possible. 3. The obstacles our users have to meaningful employment and the obstacles their parents, teachers and potential employers have in helping them.

The idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation


Join the conversation:

Photo of Hima Batavia

Hey Ryan! I think you hit the nail on the head focusing on the concept of supporting young people with their "career paths." I'm wondering why you chose to target individuals who leave school, rather than unemployed youth as a whole (or even unemployed). I think most young people I know (including myself) could use support on understanding different pathways depending on their experience, skills, interests, lifestyle desires etc. I also think for those uneducated and perhaps unemployed, envisioning a "path" is a very powerful motivator to gaining fulfilling employment.

What have you learned from the prototype in terms of the features / content that users engage with the most?

Photo of Ryan Porter

Hima, thanks for the comment :)

We chose young people not going to college, that also includes, much of the time, unemployed/underemployed youth.

Raise Your Flag is for non-degree career pathways. We phrase it as helping those not going to college because we want the point of intervention/assistance not to wait 3,4,5,6 years after they leave high school.

Young people need to know of these options early in their education in order to make the decisions that will be best for them.

As for understanding pathways based on experience, skills, lifestyle etc., we're on it ;) We'll be releasing something soon that addresses this head on.

The most surprising thing we've learned so far, is that most users explore based on the first step of a career path. This suggests that users are asking "what's in my reach now and where could it potentially lead?" as opposed to "one day I want to do this, I wonder how to get started?"

It's an interesting finding because we built RYF to be aspirational as much as it's to be a functional utility. We need to make sure that we're building a space where young people feel safe looking at what they really want to do and then figuring out how to get there.

Photo of Alison Gilbert

Hi Ryan,

This is a great approach and I love the tone of the website; it really shows a lot of respect to the target audience--especially when so many of those young people are hearing lots of very strong opinions about college-to-career paths. It's telling young people that you can still be sharp, innovative, and confident in starting your career, that finding a job straight out of high school doesn't have to be anything "less."

And I love the mindset of looking at the end goal rather than the first step in the career path; it really changes the frame of reference away from "where can I get a job right now" and positions the job seeker to be thoughtful about that first entry-level job and where it can realistically lead them.

One of tricky aspects of the job search is understanding the language in the job description: what the titles really mean (Associate vs Assistant vs. Apprentice), sifting through the buzz words, and differentiating between the hard skills required and the skills that seem to show up on every job description. And identifying those skills in yourself. With someone who recently left high school as the end user, it may be helpful to consider key words and skills that may not be immediately obvious as job skills. As an exaggerated example: someone who enjoyed chemistry lab in school may assume they'll never get to create chemical reactions if they don't go to college, but those skills could be used in other jobs: there's chemistry in cooking, or in mixing cement. A job seeker could check boxes for their interests and skills, and potential job opportunities that use those skills could be served up in a search.

You may already have some kind of key words and interests check-boxes on the platform--I explored your website but couldn't see how the process itself works without registering first. You mentioned you've been distributing the platform through schools, community employment agencies, and online. Is there an online example of a user's job search process, either as an infographic or video? That would be a great resource for people who find Raise Your Flag independently and are curious to learn more, support, or consider getting involved as an employer or advocate of the platform.

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