IN THIS ISSUE
- TRANSFORMING THE FRONT LINES OF HEALTH CARE
- COLLEGE READY
- COLLEGE SUCCESS
- CAREER ADVANCEMENT
- POLICY SOLUTIONS
In 2005, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the Hitachi Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor, began its sponsorship of Jobs to Careers, an initiative to help frontline health care workers access the skills and credentials they need to advance their careers through work-based learning—at little to no cost to the workers.
In the years to follow, with JFF serving as the National Program Office, 17 projects would forge ties among health care providers, community colleges, and other community organizations to improve the way frontline workers are trained, advanced, and rewarded. Spanning hospitals, community health centers, long-term care facilities, and behavioral health institutions, the partnerships provided career-building opportunities for nearly 1,000 frontline employees working in a range of positions—from patient care and transportation to medical records and laboratories. Over half of the participants earned credentials through Jobs to Careers.
As Jobs to Careers approaches its completion, this issue of Newswire features ways to not only sustain its achievements but to adapt and replicate them. JFF invites policymakers, practitioners, and planners—in health care and in other fields—to build pathways to advancement that, like those in Jobs to Careers, benefit our nation’s workers, their employers, and their communities.
—Marlene B. Seltzer, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future
In the June School Administrator, JFF’s Joel Vargas and Marc S. Miller discuss how JFF is scaling up early college designs, building on the success of the 230 early colleges nationwide that prepare traditionally underserved youth for college. Early college high schools enable students to simultaneously earn a substantial number of college credits, tuition-free along, with a high school diploma. Young people spend fewer years and less money achieving a college degree because they have a head start on college and are more prepared to succeed when they get there. And the basic design principles of these schools can be tailored and expanded to whole districts (as in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District in Texas) or statewide (as in North Carolina, which has created 71 early colleges statewide).
Leading JFF’s efforts to use early college designs to help school districts raise the graduation and college-readiness rates of underserved and struggling students is LaVonne M. Sheffield, our new associate vice president for early college expansion. With over 35 years’ experience as a teacher and administrator, Dr. Sheffield is a longtime proponent of education reforms that are critical to achieving these goals of early college. Before joining JFF, Dr. Sheffield was superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, the third-largest school system in Illinois and a leader in reform, including instituting standards-based curricula, differentiated instruction, and performance-based teacher evaluations.
Growing up in Detroit, Dr. Sheffield learned from her parents that education is the key to achieving individual success, community prosperity, and racial equity. Both her mother—a school nurse and school board member—and her father—a respected leader of organized labor—were active in the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout her own career, Dr. Sheffield has been dedicated to the proposition that all children can learn and that all children deserve a high-quality education.
Dr. Sheffield has also held district leadership roles in Detroit (where she began her career as a teacher), Philadelphia, and Baton Rouge.
If you would like more information on how early college designs can help your district or state, please contact Dr. Sheffield, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617.728.4446.
JFF's Nancy Hoffman responded to New York Times' columnist David Brooks, who urged 2011 graduates not to “find themselves” out in the world but rather to lose themselves in life-fulfilling tasks (“A Generation Faces the Road Ahead,” June 5). Those whom Brooks writes to only "represent a minority of the youth population, those who have the means to get a college degree," Hoffman writes. "The majority of young people have had too little structure, supervision, and sound advice about the future, not too much" and need "a system that structures the transition to the labor market through a mix of school and work [that] engages employers in education."
Hoffman has also pointed out that some countries have surpassed the United States in terms of gainfully employing its young people. Youth unemployment is in single digits in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; in the United States, it has soared to nearly 20 percent.
Health care employers have a valuable set of resources for advancing their frontline employees. To build upon the successes of Jobs to Careers, JFF has redesigned the initiative website, creating a portal to proven practices for developing and implementing work-based learning programs that yield benefits for frontline workers and their employers. The website offers practitioners and policymakers easy access to details on the 17 Jobs to Careers projects across the country, as well as tools, research and practice briefs, evaluation reports, audio-visual resources, and more.
Coming soon: The Jobs to Careers website will provide access to a comprehensive, online toolkit for employers and education providers on creating a work-based learning program.
In May, a national meeting shared models for training and advancing direct care workers and raising the quality of care-giving jobs. Building Ladders and Raising the Floor brought together a prestigious group of workforce development practitioners, policymakers, and consumer advocates to learn about innovations for identifying career advancement opportunities while improving the quality of entry-level positions. The participants also discussed moving toward a common agenda for promoting and supporting educational and career advancement opportunities like those developed by Jobs to Careers.
Building Ladders and Raising the Floor was co-hosted by JFF and PHI, a national nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of people who need home or residential care— by improving the lives of the workers who provide that care. The Jobs to Careers website provides access to the meeting agenda, speaker bios, and presentations.
Low-income adults seeking to advance their careers often encounter daunting hurdles. The challenges are compounded in Native communities where workers may feel disconnected from the mainstream culture and usual modes of instruction. Jobs to Careers projects in Alaska, Arizona, and Hawaii overcame barriers by embracing the elements of indigenous cultures and integrating them into the delivery of work-based learning.
Is college worth its increasing price tag? JFF President and CEO Marlene Seltzer reminded National Journal readers that “college” doesn’t just mean a four-year Bachelor’s program. “College can mean many different things,” Seltzer writes, “a one-year certificate for retraining or upgrading one’s skills; a degree from an elite residential school; a two-year nursing degree; an online business degree at a for-profit institution; etc.
“The more we talk about programs of study—about the pathways that are available to and chosen by participants in different college settings—the messier and more polarizing the conversation is. But that conversation helps move us toward improving the benefits of postsecondary education to individuals and our nation as a whole.”
In a report for Brookings Institution, JFF Senior VP Richard Kazis argues that postsecondary credentials—not short-term job training—will help improve opportunities for American workers. He spells out how states can tie community colleges’ programs with their respective regions’ talent needs to spur a more efficient recovery.
The May 2011 Achieving Success, the state policy newsletter of Achieving the Dream and the Developmental Education Initiative, features three efforts to use data to guide community college reform. Florida has devised a “dashboard tool” that makes it easier for practitioners, policymakers, and the public to access and use student data. Data analysis informs the redesign of Connecticut’s developmental education programming. And developmental education faculty in Arkansas are expanding their classroom skills thanks to national partnerships and a new state law. Read about these advances, plus new research and other resources in Achieving Success.
As Washington pays more and more attention to increasing the college readiness of America’s high school students, JFF is building our capacity to help lawmakers accommodate the programs and practices proven to fulfill that goal. To that end, two policy experts joined our DC-based Workforce and Education Policy Group this spring. Cassius Johnson returns to JFF as associate vice president for national education policy after serving as public policy director at College Summit in Washington. Kathryn Young joins JFF as director of national education policy. Formerly, she served as policy advisor to Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana.
Jobs for the Future develops, implements, and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states, and the nation compete in a global economy. In more than 200 communities in 41 states, JFF improves the pathways leading from high school to college to family-sustaining careers.