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June 24, 2024

At a Glance

JFF’s Disrupt the Divide initiative supports postsecondary institutions in increasing Black learners’ success in accessing and completing programs that lead to high-wage jobs in growing industries.  

Student using laptop in the classroom


Black learners and workers are overrepresented in low-wage service jobs at risk of automation and are underrepresented in high-wage jobs in growing, in-demand fields—a reality known as occupational segregation. These patterns begin long before workers enter the workforce and contribute to startling wealth gaps. McKinsey estimates a $220 billion annual wage disparity between the wages of Black workers today and what they would be with full racial parity in the U.S. labor market. Removing systemic barriers and increasing access to high-wage jobs for Black workers would add trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy and promote inclusive economic prosperity.


Community colleges enroll more than one-third of all Black undergraduate learners, providing these schools with an opportunity to identify and address these persistent racial patterns—and meet regional workforce needs. Through the Disrupt the Divide initiative, JFF supports a cohort of community colleges to analyze the outcomes and experiences of Black learners and to design and implement interventions, such as improving recruitment and outreach, embedding career advising and navigation support, and implementing work-based learning experiences, that provide equitable access to credentials, degrees, and opportunities that lead to employment in high-wage, high-growth fields such as health care, engineering, and advanced manufacturing.


The six participating community colleges will partner with JFF for two years to develop and implement interventions that are designed to connect more learners–particularly Black learners and other learners facing systemic barriers to labor market opportunity–to high-wage jobs in growing industries. The resulting insights and approaches will be shared through JFF’s postsecondary networks and will provide actionable steps and valuable knowledge for the postsecondary field.


Our Call to Action for Achieving Black Economic Equity