Issues We Address

Preparing for College and Career

Our country must enable more low-income and minority students to earn a high school diploma and graduate ready for college.

Only 65 percent of low-income youth are graduating from high school today, compared with 87 percent of higher-income students. The dropout rate for low-income students is estimated to be 10 times higher than for their peers. This means that too few youth in America are earning a high school credential that is a critical step along the road to valuable postsecondary credentials and, ultimately, a family-supporting career. Even many who do graduate need better preparation to begin and complete that postsecondary work.

JFF’s school designs combine high school and college in rigorous, supportive environments through dual enrollment, early college high schools, bridge programs, GED-to-college programs for out-of-school youth, and career and technical education pathways. The related instructional models engage and motivate even struggling students, putting them on track to succeed in the future.

Earning Postsecondary Credentials

Too many youth and adults do not have the knowledge and skills needed to enter postsecondary education or earn college credits, and lower-skilled students who do enroll then face barriers to earning a credential with labor market value.

Sixty percent of students who enter community college are academically underprepared and required to take developmental courses, paying tuition before earning college credit. Only about one-quarter of first-time community college students—and even fewer low-income and minority students—attain a degree or certificate within five years.

JFF has identified evidence-based best practices for enabling students to earn credentials that are of value in the labor market. Our programs provide student supports, especially in the first year, which can make the difference between persistence and dropping out. We build contextualized career pathways that empower students to learn basic skills while participating in career-specific training at the same time. Real-time labor market information is used to connect education and training programs with current employer needs, and help colleges guide students into pathways that match their interests with local demand.

Advancing Careers and Economic Growth

Too many adults do not have the knowledge and skills needed to obtain family-supporting careers, while employers are challenged in finding the skilled workers they need to thrive and grow.

Ninety-three million adults, or more than 30 percent of U.S. workers, have such low literacy, math, and occupational skills that they cannot find decent work at decent wages or access further education and job training. By 2016, two-thirds of jobs will require some postsecondary education. This is an untenable situation for workers, employers, and the economy.

JFF designs and implements innovative approaches to the education and training of low-skilled adults, such as work-based learning, tied to the needs of regional employers. Our programs focus on sectors that offer family-supporting wages and advancement opportunities. We foster employer partnerships and workforce development in these sectors of high economic growth.