The SHIFT Awards


Innovate+Educate and the SHRM New Mexico State Council are proud to join together as partners to announce the global SHIFT Awards. We see a shift happening: in the way organizations assess, identify, and develop talent, thus creating new opportunities for the existing and potential workforce.

The SHIFT Awards are designed to recognize employers who are shifting from traditional hiring, assessment, training and advancement methods to create new paths to employment, training and economic opportunities. These new paths may:

  • Focus on invisible or otherwise overlooked populations
  • Determine new and more relevant job requirements that expand opportunities to more candidates
  • Create new methods of assessing candidate skill sets
  • Provide innovative learning pathways to skill up current employees and candidates
  • Develop a diverse, work-ready pipeline of talent
  • Bridge the skills gap


Employers who have challenged the status quo when it comes to hiring and workforce development practices, creating programs with significant outcomes in regard to hiring or workforce development.  We’re interested in innovations that connect unemployed and underserved Americans to new paths to employment, training, and economic opportunity that bypass traditional requirements. We are seeking programs that demonstrate high levels of creativity and provide a solution to one or more workforce challenges.  Special consideration will be given to programs serving special populations (i.e. minorities, persons with disabilities, veterans, military spouses/partners, formerly incarcerated individuals, etc.). All employers of any size are eligible to compete in this program. Staffing firms who dedicate their efforts to special populations are also urged to apply. Employers who have partnered with workforce development practitioners, community services, schools or government agencies in developing their innovative strategies may enter on behalf of the partnership.



Employers are encouraged to self-nominate by completing the application process. Individuals with knowledge of an outstanding initiative may nominate an organization by clicking link below.

  • Demonstrate and share your own SHIFT from traditional approaches to the use of innovative strategies to seek new employees, train your workforce, and close the skills gap.
  • Inspire other organizations and build the momentum!
  • Winner(s) will receive special recognition at the Close It Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 24 – 26, 2021.
  • Winning submissions will be shared as part of an idea exchange on the CLOSE IT DistributED Ideation Hubs, Innovate+Educate and SHRM NM websites.
  • Winners will be recognized in a press release.

In addition, Platinum award winners will be provided with one complimentary registration to the Close It Summit in 2022. The winner(s) will be announced at the awards presentation at the 2021 conference and on the CLOSE IT DistributED Ideation Hub for HR and SHRM NM websites.


This is a multi-level award that recognizes fledgling projects to well-established implementations with measured results. We will consider size and scope of the initiative and the organization, potential or proven impact, partnerships or community involvement, and replicability.  Additional consideration will be given to those programs that focus on special populations such as persons with disabilities, minorities, veterans, military spouses/partners, and formerly incarcerated individuals.  Judges will consider the following:

  • Why the program was created, the need and/or challenge to be overcome, and the
  • How the program was implemented, who participated, and the methods used, including community partnerships, if any.
  • Challenges encountered along the way, and how they were
  • Responses and support from leadership and
  • The program effectiveness and results achieved by implementing the
  • The impact, if any, to the promotion of a diverse


Click here to access the application. The awards information and access to the application can also be found on the SHRM NM website.

Complete submissions deadline has now been extended to Friday, March 12, 2021 in order to be considered.

Our panel of judges includes business leaders and human resources experts.

Winners will be announced during the Close It Summit, May 24th– 26th at the Santa Fe Convention Center in Santa Fe, NM. The awards presentation will be hosted by Jamai Blivin, Founder & CEO, Innovate+Educate, and Sean Sullivan, Chief HR Officer, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Winners do not need to be present, however, each winning organization is entitled to one complimentary registration to the 2020 Close It Summit. Winners will be notified in advance. Winning submissions will be shared as part of an idea exchange on the Close It DistributED website and on the SHRM NM website. Winners will also be invited to submit a short video about their innovation that will be posted on the Close It DistributED Hub for HR.

Questions? Contact us at

The SHIFT Awards deadline has now been extended to March 12, 2021!

Apply now or explore the application here.

Applications open through Friday, March 5, 2021.


We welcome you to nominate an innovation. We will contact the employer and encourage them to apply.



Innovate+Educate is a nonprofit focused on shifting training, hiring, and advancement strategies to ensure the over 100 million low-income workers are provided access to learning and employment leading to lifelong economic success. Our work is big system change that will support economic mobility for workers and their families. Our team believes in a system shift that will open pathways to career success for millions of individuals while providing employers a much-needed qualified workforce.

Learn more about Innovate+Educate at

The SHRM New Mexico State Council is an affiliate of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the leading membership association for over 250,000 human resources professionals worldwide. SHRM New Mexico is a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization whose primary objective is to support and further the human resource profession in New Mexico. We represent over 1,500 Human Resource Professionals in the state of New Mexico.

Learn more about SHRM NM at

Close It is the leading Education and Employment Tech Summit in the nation. Now in its seventh year, it is a unique venue for engagement where thought partners and industry leaders gain insights and understand the forces impacting The Shift in competency-based learning and employment ecosystems. Traditional pathways and education are no longer connecting workers to jobs, nor employers to workers with the right skills. Close It explores the many challenges bringing about The Shift and the landscape of players involved in creating pathways to high-value employment.

Be sure to register and be at CLOSE IT 2020 in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the Shift Awards and much more excellent content on “The Shift Has Happened. Now What?”

Register for the CLOSE IT SUMMIT DistributED