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Far exceeding its goals in helping those affected by the COVID-19 fallout, a Fresno technology company plans to roll out its assistance website nationwide.

Bitwise Industries hoped to help 10,000 people economically impacted by the pandemic during the first month of launching its OnwardCA website.

Within two weeks, the site has helped 206,000 Californians connect to emergency resources, training programs, or a new job.

Bitwise will expand services to other states through OnwardUS, starting today in Colorado. Information for more states will follow.

“It’s designed to help folks suffering from job loss from COVID-19 get the resources that they need to help them in the immediate term and connect them to jobs in the hopes that we can get them back to work most quickly,” Bitwise co-CEO Jake Soberal said.

Stepping up for Underdogs

Soberal said launching Onward fit in with Bitwise’s mission.

Portrait of Jake Soberal

“Ordinarily it would take somewhere the neighborhood of 12 to 18 months to build. It was deployed in just 11 days.” — Bitwise co-CEO Jake Soberal

“The people that we serve come from a spot of being underdogs, of being in a down position many times. What occurred to us in this moment is that there are millions and millions of people here in California, around the country, that are sitting in that position today as a result of this pandemic,” Soberal said.

“We thought that we could do something about it, which for us meant putting to work are our knowledge run workforce and our ability to deliver tech products to deliver something that could help them along that journey.”

Working from home, nearly 100 coders and engineers put Bitwise together. The tech company is working with other philanthropic and technology groups to fund the venture and supply data for as many states as possible. They include the Kapor Center in Oakland and Salesforce.

The needs of displaced workers during the pandemic helped move the project at a record pace.

“Ordinarily it would take somewhere the neighborhood of 12 to 18 months to build. It was deployed in just 11 days,” Soberal said. “Things have gone really, really fast. There have been a lot of talented human beings that have been hard at work to make that happen.

Newsom Helped Launch OnwardCA

Gov. Gavin Newsom helped launch the service-oriented website during his April 2 news conference.

“I’m very proud of it. I met with a small group of people in Fresno, California about a year ago, an organization called Bitwise. Remarkable economic story in Fresno and the Central Valley that is not often highlighted in the news,” Newsom said.

Newsom encouraged out-of-work Californians to visit the site.

“That’s about getting us back on our feet,” Newsom said.

Soberal appreciated Newsom’s early support.

“We have had the ability to reach more people than we ever would have without that support,” he said. “I think the platform’s existence is a tribute to his leadership and running a governor’s office that is nimble enough to work alongside private industry philanthropy really quickly in a moment of high need.”

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