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JFF’s Workforce Communities of Action

Learning and Outcomes from the Workforce Communities of Action

June 12, 2024

At A Glance

The outcomes and learning from the inaugural Workforce Communities of Action will inform future implementation of the model and propel workforce leaders to make meaningful change in their communities.  

Outcomes of Workforce Communities of Action

The inaugural Workforce Communities of Action (WCA) cohort, comprised of 20 workforce development boards, embarked on an eight-month journey aimed at equipping the organizations with a set of tools and principles for ideating equitable, community-driven solutions to complex challenges. The experience also resulted in a set of ambitious action plans that demonstrate the ability of workforce development boards to be powerful changemakers in their communities.

Keep these programs going, JFF! Great job, great concepts!

Santa Barbara County

Innovation Allies of WCA

The action plans submitted by participating communities represented a range of ideas and approaches for addressing challenges at the systems, organizational, and program levels. From those submissions, four were selected to receive funding from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to continue their work in partnership with JFF. These four were selected based on their potential for community impact, demonstrated integration of equity and human-centered design principles, desire to build capacity, and overall approach to innovation.


Norfolk, Virginia

Hampton Roads Workforce Council

Action plan priority:

The Hampton Roads Workforce Council will focus its efforts on strategies and approaches to increase engagement with workers and worker-led organizations in talent-development efforts for the health care field.

On participating in WCA:

“As the Hampton Roads Workforce Council (HRWC) expands its talent-development efforts into the health care sector, we are leveraging the lessons learned from our WCA experience to inform and improve our grassroots community engagement and data management strategies. Our WCA action plan focuses on developing innovative strategies to engage historically underserved communities, develop trust among key industry stakeholders, and utilize emerging technologies to augment our work. In the short term, this project is helping the HRWC emphasize worker voices in program development and reduce internal silos between our workforce programs. In the long term, participation in the WCA project and the resources it provides are helping the HRWC improve outcomes for health care jobseekers and residents in Hampton Roads, as well as providing a greater return on investment to our funders.”

Press coverage:

Hampton Roads Workforce Council Launches Partnership to Boost Region’s Pool of Health Care Workers,” Sandra J. Pennecke, The Virginian-Pilot, Newport News, Virginia, May 9, 2024

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

SCPa Works

Action plan priority:

SCPa Works’ activities will explore strategies to maximize and measure the impact of the SCPa Works board and investigate how to build infrastructure and capacity to diversify its funding portfolio and increase braided funding opportunities.

On participating in WCA:

“SCPa Works’ participation in JFF’s Workforce Communities of Action has led our team on an introspective journey to collectively shape our strategic vision, goals, and processes. Our team conducted an internal audit of the organization’s funding sources and its ability to diversify funding. Wanting to better utilize braided and blended funding strategies, [our] action plan focused on understanding SCPa Works’ current financial status and practices, gaining best practices from other workforce boards across the country, and conducting research on needed technology and tools to implement this strategy. All of this was done with the long-term goal of diversifying SCPa Works’ funding to better serve the local community’s needs.”

“Through the structure and resources provided by the WCA, our team was able to focus time on collectively developing a strategy, needs assessment, and interdepartmental plan for moving our goal of diversified funding forward. With the knowledge gained through this experience, our team hopes to continue building our internal capacity at all levels to support funding diversification for the benefit of our job seekers and businesses.”

Press coverage:

Central Pa. Careers Organization Receives Jobs for the Future Grant,” Paul Vigna, PennLive Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, May 8, 2024

Vallejo, California

Workforce Development Board of Solano County

Action plan priority:

The Workforce Development Board of Solano County will focus on creating a local talent-attraction plan that encourages more diverse representation throughout career entry points in the region’s emerging bioeconomy sector.

On participating in WCA:

“The WCA experience helped the Workforce Development Board of Solano County create a strategic plan on how to align and leverage regional stakeholders around the creation of a talent pipeline infrastructure for the emerging biomanufacturing/biotech industry. We knew that if we could share our vision and develop stronger relationships with partners, the greater region would benefit from the city of Vacaville’s strategic plan is to turn the city into a biotech hub. The exercises, tools, and guidance provided assisted our workforce board, in real time, to create, develop, and immediately implement strategies that kept our vision and goals moving forward.”

“Internally, the WCA experience has guided the workforce board through a process that brought awareness, built collaboration, and concluded with consensus among a variety of government, educational, economic development, and nonprofits to agree on a regional action plan. Externally, the experience will bring opportunities for our community, developing educational and economic opportunities for all our residents resulting in a vibrant and shared economy.”

Press coverage:

County Workforce Board Receives Jobs for the Future Grant” Daily Republic, Fairfield, California, April 5, 2024

New Albany, Indiana

Southern Indiana Works

Action plan priority:

Southern Indiana Works (SIW) will focus its efforts on building out a network of diverse business and community partners to provide quality career opportunities for people who have been incarcerated.

On participating in WCA:

“Our WCA experience greatly shaped our work. The WCA sessions, consultants, subject-matter experts, and processes supported SIW in [our] desire to reach and better serve people in the region who have been incarcerated. Being part of the WCA allowed us to be intentional about advancing this organizational priority while receiving support from JFF, CivicMakers, subject-matter experts, and workforce boards from across the country. The experience enabled SIW to create an action plan for serving people who have been incarcerated [by] building out a network of diverse business and community partners to provide quality career opportunities. As a result of this work, SIW will coordinate with partners, identify entry points for our programs and services on the reentry journey, educate and train our staff and employers, and identify ‘champion’ employers. Formerly incarcerated jobseekers will receive improved customer service and referrals to partners, and they will be connected with champion employers.”

“I think the biggest value-add for me was to hear how others are doing throughout the nation. I found peer-to-peer conversations really valuable.”

Willamette Workforce Partnership


Learning and Capacity-Building Outcomes

Organizational Learning and Capacity Building

Through pre- and post-program questionnaires, JFF was able to assess key shifts in learning and capacity across specific knowledge areas, practices, and behaviors. When comparing the percentage of participants that either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with statements at the start of the program versus the end of the program, notable (>10 percentage point) shifts were seen for the following statements:


Statement Start End
I am confident that my organization’s approach to addressing this issue will incorporate the voices, circumstances, and needs of those being impacted by it. 78% 91%
I have a clear understanding of what must be measured and by whom in order to assess progress in addressing my workforce challenge. 59% 88%
My organization has what it needs to customize outreach strategies and materials to effectively reach those most impacted by my workforce challenge. 71% 83%
I have a clear understanding of the resources and infrastructure needed to diversify our funding sources to support our vision and organizational priorities. 65% 83%
I am able to make a compelling case for why cutting-edge technologies and service delivery models that reflect the evolving work and learning environment must be made available to our clients. 66% 79%
I have a baseline understanding of approaches or strategies for measuring the efficacy of our technology to promote more equitable outcomes. 54% 75%
I have a strong awareness of the data sets needed by my organization to inform our workforce challenge from a variety of perspectives. 60% 75%


The program expanded my knowledge around ways to strategically identify challenges and generate solutions and helped build support and community within the workforce space.

Philadelphia Works

People and Places

With valuable community connections noted by several participants as a key outcome of the experience, WCA achieved the following with respect to peer connectedness and networking:

Provided time and space for a group of 20 organizations from 14 states, with varied geographic and demographic traits, to converse and ideate around shared visions, capabilities, goals, and barriers.

Established a group of subject-matter experts and advisors who rallied around JFF’s workforce system transformation strategy to provide targeted advice, counsel, and strategic support to each of the communities.

Thought Leadership and Resource Development

With our partner, CivicMakers, and with support from our workforce advisors and participating organizations, JFF has established a resource hub containing more than 100 tools, templates, resources, and videos supporting the principles and concepts of the WCA curriculum. Structured as five distinct learning modules, the resource hub provides detailed frameworks and concepts specific to:

  • ecosystem mapping and gap analysis;
  • challenge definition/development of effective problem statements;
  • impact assessment and positionality;
  • visioning and ideation; and
  • action planning.


I always found myself learning something new, and the templates really helped when implementing the next steps for our planning.

Eastern Indiana Works


Learn more about JFF’s Workforce Transformation Strategy and be sure to subscribe to receive updates and information about opportunities to join a future Workforce Communities of Action.

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