It Started at Horizons

Our Ongoing Web Series

About the series

Building on the Horizons experience, we've launched a free ongoing webinar series called “It Started at Horizons.” For each episode, we invite diverse leaders in education and workforce development to join JFF experts for conversations about topics such as the future of work and learning, the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 crisis, and the need to increase racial equity and improve access to economic opportunity.

Previous Episodes

Episode 10: "How State and Local Leaders are Creating Policy Conditions for an Equitable Economic Recovery"

In confronting the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, state leaders can't just focus on "getting back to normal." As the nation's laboratories of democracy, states have the responsibility and an unprecedented opportunity to create a more equitable future. They can fix the systems and policies that have long been producing and perpetuating massive disparities in education and skills, career opportunities, and economic well-being.

In this episode, JFF's Erica Cuevas will explore how state policy can help people rebound and advance, revitalize regional economies inclusively, and make education and workforce development systems more responsive to learners, workers, and employers.

Erica leads a conversation with three state and local leaders who are shaping equity-minded policy responses to the economic downturn and our society's longstanding inequities.

The panelists will explain why a holistic approach is necessary to address the economic security, education, and employment needs of learners, workers, and employers. Be sure to join us and leave with policy strategies from these experts and JFF's recently released State Policy Road Map for an Equitable Economic Recovery.

Episode 9: "Activating Corporate Changemakers to Build a More Equitable Workplace"

Corporate leaders have an important role to play in building an equitable economic recovery. At last summer’s Horizons, JFF launched Recover Stronger, an initiative that brings together some of these companies, including Walmart, Microsoft, and MasterCard, around a shared commitment to address the economic impacts and racial disparities magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost one year later, these companies and others are taking crucial steps toward building more equitable workplaces. They are working to better understand their employees’ needs and what they can do to support them.

Audrey Mickahail will explore how those corporate efforts are creating a more equitable recovery for workers everywhere. Audrey will host a conversation with Lisha Bell of PayPal, Omari Brandt of Autodesk, and Abigail Carlton of Indeed—three members of our corporate community who have led meaningful efforts to prioritize the economic well-being of employees at all levels of their companies.

Learn more about their efforts, what it takes to become a changemaker, and how leaders at all levels can harness talent and expertise to kick-start a push toward a stronger recovery effort.

Episode 8: "Financing the Future: A Conversation About ISAs"

It’s time to look for new ways to finance postsecondary education and training, and income share agreements (ISA) might represent a promising, though largely untested, option.

Workers today must continually develop new skills to remain competitive in the ever-evolving economy, but the high cost of education and training make that difficult. Existing financing options often don’t help because they’re built for traditional degree-granting programs, and today’s learners—especially workers displaced during the pandemic—increasingly need flexible short-term training programs.

The ISA model has the potential to promote greater access, affordability, and accountability, but as this small market rapidly grows, so too do questions related to the model’s efficacy and the need for government oversight. During this episode, JFF’s Ethan Pollack will explore the ISA market with Andy Hall of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, Carol Tan of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and Kevin James of Better Future Forward.

As millions of Americans struggle to advance in the labor market, these experts will discuss how ISAs might create new learning opportunities for students and workers of all ages.

Episode 7: "Vital Voices: Don’t Have a Conversation About Us, Without Us"

Learners and workers have a lot to say about how to create more equitable education and workforce systems that fuel economic advancement for all. Now more than ever, it’s critically important to ensure that discussions and decisions about them don’t take place without them.

Hear two of these vital voices during Episode 7 of “It Started at Horizons." JFF’s Mamadou Ndiaye will host a conversation with X-Cel Education Services graduate Sabastian Holden and Diamond Stately, assistant technical instructor at NPower Maryland.

With their lived experiences driving the discussion, Sabastian and Diamond will describe some of the opportunities and challenges that learners and workers face, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. They'll also offer solutions for how educators, employers, and community leaders can better support and empower them during the pandemic and long after it ends. JFF will continue to directly involve learners and workers in our efforts to build a future that works. Stay tuned to hear more. Meanwhile, don't miss this important episode!

Episode 6: "From Incarceration to Careers: Supporting Reentry Success for Formerly Incarcerated Adults"

Each year, more than 650,000 people are released from state and federal prisons. Whether they can successfully reenter the community—or end up returning to prison—depends overwhelmingly on one variable: full-time employment. Unfortunately, many barriers stand in the way. In this episode of “It Started at Horizons,” JFF and guests will grapple with these challenges and identify opportunities for constructive change.

In this episode, JFF’s Lucretia Murphy has a candid conversation with Jacqueline Helm, a young woman who transitioned from incarceration to full-time employment with UPS and is now a welder at The Sureway Group, and Victor Dickson, the president and CEO of the Safer Foundation.

They’ll discuss the individual and systemic barriers facing people with criminal records, successful strategies for breaking down those barriers, and opportunities we have to transform our criminal justice, education, and workforce development systems to expand economic opportunity for all.

Read more about Jackie's reentry success story and our recommendations to ensure people with records get a fair chance.

Episode 5: "Looking Ahead: Policies for the Biden Administration to Advance an Equitable Economic Recovery"

As the country establishes a path to recovery from the twin health and economic crises brought on by COVID-19, the Biden administration and the new Congress have an unprecedented opportunity to fix systems and policies that were broken long before the pandemic upended society.

In this episode of "It Started at Horizons", we will explore steps that federal policymakers could take to foster an equitable recovery in a conversation with Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana’s commissioner of higher education, and Lee Wheeler-Berliner, managing director of Colorado’s Workforce Development Council.

JFF Associate Vice President Lexi Barrett will also be on hand to discuss policy recommendations that JFF put forth in its memo to the Biden administration, “How to Achieve an Equitable Economic Recovery for America.”

This hour-long discussion will feature examples of innovative policies that have led to progress across the country. Be sure to register today, so you can join fellow workforce, education, and economic development professionals for this in-depth and thought-provoking conversation.

Episode 4: "Leveraging Data for Equity in a COVID-19 Economy - Next-Generation LMI"

Leaders in education and workforce development rely on the highest-quality labor market information (LMI) to inform how they design college and career pathways. Now, COVID-related unemployment has upended the economy, and leaders must quickly adapt. In this episode of “It Started at Horizons,” Sara Lamback and Julia di Bonaventura of JFF, Isa Ellis of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Joel Simon of Burning Glass Technologies will discuss new approaches to using LMI to ensure equity in the development of college and career pathways. They will explore advice for job seekers, especially young people who are still in school, planning for college, or getting ready to graduate, and will highlight organizations that are leveraging LMI in innovative ways. This episode is also part of JFF’s Building Equitable Pathways Webinar Series.

Episode 3: "Race and Education: Past, Present, and Future"

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted racial inequities that have long pervaded our education and workforce systems. On November 18, JFF Vice President Michael Collins will discuss these trends in a one-on-one conversation with John Simpkins, a constitutional scholar and president of MDC.

Building on decades of work advancing educational and economic outcomes for Black Americans, Michael and John will explore leading research and strategies for improving racial equity in education. Drawing on lessons learned from John’s regional work in the South, they will lay out policies and practices for combatting racial inequities in education, delving into how we got here and how we can move forward.

Episode 2: "Career Navigation in a Changing Economy"

Career navigation has always been a lifelong process. But now, with the labor market in flux due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s more important than ever for people to be able to identify and assess employment and training options in order to make informed decisions about which pathways to choose.

As they follow career trajectories defined by variety and near-constant change, learners and workers will weave in and out of education and work throughout their lives. Navigating that path requires skills, resources, and support networks, as well as comprehensive, integrated career guidance systems.

Join JFF’s Clare Bertrand, director of Best Bet Services, and Alex Swartsel, deputy director of acceleration at JFFLabs, as they connect with Chris Motley, founder and CEO of Mentor Spaces, and Nitzan Pelman, CEO of Climb Hire, for an engaging conversation about career navigation across the education-to-work ecosystem, from K-12 to college and the workforce.

Episode 1: "Advancing Equity in Postsecondary Education: How California Community Colleges Are Leading the Way"

Our series kicks off with a “fireside chat” featuring California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and Executive Vice Chancellor Marty Alvarado. In our first episode, Chancellor Oakley and Vice Chancellor Alvarado discuss how they are meeting this unprecedented moment of historically high-unemployment, racial injustice, and economic fallout from COVID-19 with a bold plan to close racial equity gaps, improve outcomes, and foster systemic change in the nation’s largest community college system.

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Don’t forget to save the date for next year’s Horizons: June 15-16, 2021