Blue Meridian Partners, whose donor partners include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ballmer Group and the Sergey Brin Family Foundation.

Others contributing to the fund are the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Schmidt Futures, led by Eric Schmidt, former chief executive of Google.

For Social Finance and its backers, the career impact bonds are not traditional investments. For them, breaking even or a small return would be winning — proof the concept is working, which should attract more public and private money.

“We need to move toward evidence-based funding,” said Jim Shelton, chief investment and impact officer for Blue Meridian Partners and a deputy secretary of education in the Obama administration. “And Social Finance is supporting programs that show it can be done.”

The Social Finance income-share agreement with students ranges from about 5 percent to 9 percent depending on their earnings — less from $30,000 to $40,000, and generally more above $40,000. The monthly payments last four years. If you lose your job, the payment obligation stops.

“Our investors aren’t after high returns. They’re primarily after social impact,” Ms. Palandjian said.

When screening programs, Social Finance looks for those that offer training for specific skills linked to local demand, and have data to show that its students graduate and get good-paying jobs. In selecting a skilled-trade school, Social Finance, working with Burning Glass Technologies, which analyzes job-market data, sought a program for an occupation in demand with potential for the worker to move up the career ladder.

American Diesel Training, based in Columbus, Ohio, met the requirements. The for-profit company’s program is designed as a short, intensive course to train entry-level diesel technicians, mostly for trucking companies and dealerships.

Demand for diesel technicians is robust as more goods are shipped by truck, often delivering products ordered online, and baby-boom mechanics are retiring. There is an accessible career path to become a senior mechanic or into administration as a service, distribution or shop manager.

American Diesel Training, founded in 2017, succeeded in placing students in jobs in its first few years, but remained small.

Before Social Finance arrived, Tim Spurlock, co-founder and chief executive of American Diesel Training, looked into financing through income-share agreements offered by venture-backed start-ups. The terms, he said, were far less favorable for students.

“Social Finance comes at it from a completely different angle,” he said.

The first group of Social Finance-funded students started the five-week course last September. There are now about 70 students in each course. That is about four times as many as a year ago.

Social Finance pays American Diesel Training just over 60 percent of its fee initially. The rest comes later, after a student lands and keeps a job.

“I’m fine with that,” Mr. Spurlock said. “We’ve completely proven our educational model. The problem was the funding mechanism.”

A total of 229 students supported by Social Finance have been enrolled. The graduation rate is nearly 100 percent, and 89 percent have jobs. Their average annual income is $36,500, and the average gain from income before the program is $12,400.

Today, Mr. Barber, who saw an ad for the program on Facebook, works in Ohio for U.S. Xpress, a national freight-hauling trucker. As an entry-level diesel technician, he is mostly doing preventive maintenance on trucks. With diesel mechanics in demand, the company paid him a $2,000 signing bonus and a relocation fee.

Jordan Battle earns about $43,000 a year as a diesel mechanic for a large trucking company in Atlanta, far more than she did as a contractor for a civic education organization.

That job ended with the pandemic, so she decided to go for “something essential and to have a real skill others don’t.” She was accepted in the American Diesel Training program, and she was offered a job after three weeks, before she graduated. Practice interviews, résumé building and introductions to employers were part of the curriculum.

“That’s where the program really stands out,” she said. “They fight for you.”

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Sorry, Sometimes You Do Have to Be Uncomfortable

That said, you can do only so much and, frankly, you have done enough. You may well be surrounded by people who are unwilling or uninterested in living in the real world where diversity exists. If that’s the case, it could be that you need to move to an organization whose values are more aligned with yours.

I work for a nonprofit, where I’ve been employed for most of the past 30-plus years. I’m a bit of a workaholic. A few weeks ago, my manager asked everyone at a meeting to say what our stress level is, on a one to 10 scale. I said the truth: 10. One week later, the manager’s theme for her morning email was time management: Basically, anyone who says she is busy or has too much work actually has poor time management skills. I considered this to be a public shaming of me and one colleague who also self-reported a high level of stress. The email is not the only thing I don’t like about the manager, but it feels like the proverbial straw, the latest in a stream of disrespectful actions. Do all bosses do this? If I decide to stick it out until I’m eligible for Social Security, what’s the best approach?

— Anonymous, Madison, Wis.

Your manager is passive aggressive and has some toxic ideas about work culture. I don’t know that she was shaming you as much as she was judging you, which isn’t much better. But who cares what she thinks? You’re stressed out. Most people are. Your manager is just being petty. Ignore her silly provocations. You’ve been at your organization for more than 30 years. You can see the light at the end of the employment tunnel. You can and will get through this. If you have the energy for it, you can certainly look for new employment. Or you can just stick it out. You didn’t share how much longer you have to work to qualify for Social Security benefits, but I am guessing it’s fewer than 10 years. It’s time to figure out who you are beyond your work. You can be great at your job without being a workaholic. Keep doing your best, but find other things outside of work to put some of that intensity into. As I’ve written before in this column, the job will never love you. Do not invest the whole of your identity in what you do for a living because when the job refuses to love you back, when it lets you down, you’re left with nothing and you deserve much better.

I’m in the process of hiring a new writer. She impressed us all in the interview process. We made her an offer and she verbally accepted. Then she sent us some questions about details of the offer. We sent some benefit details and vague info on our growth numbers, given the nondisclosure agreement she signed.

The day her acceptance was due back, she phoned human resources — not me, the hiring manager — to say she had another offer at a startlingly high salary. She said she’d take our offer for an additional $10,000. I really doubt the level of the second offer. But others wanted to push forward and gave her a $5,000 bump. When I phoned with the counteroffer, I mentioned her competing offer and she brushed it off — ‘Oh, that, I wouldn’t take that. I’d like to work for you.’

I feel like we’ve been played. I can’t shake the feeling that she lied to us and went around me. What do I do with this feeling?

— Anonymous

Your new employee is not taking money out of your bank account. Why are you so pressed about her negotiating tactics or how much she is being paid? You don’t know for certain that she is lying about the competing offer but, if she is, she is not the first nor will she be the last person to manifest an imaginary job offer to negotiate higher compensation. It sounds as if she was savvy, did her homework and shot her shot. Let go of the feeling that she lied and circumvented your authority. She has hustle. She will, hopefully, bring that hustle to the job every day and be a great employee. If not, you will handle the matter accordingly. I understand why you are irked about the way she went about this, but that’s your bruised ego talking. Nurse the bruise and move on. You’re still the boss.

Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at workfriend@nytimes.com.

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