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JFF Announces $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge in Partnership with Schmidt Futures’ Alliance for the American Dream

June 13, 2018

Innovative Competition Unveiled at JFF’s NationalSummit, Horizons: A Vision for Economic Advancement

NEW ORLEANS (June 13, 2018) —JFF, a national nonprofit that accelerates the alignment and transformation ofthe American workforce and education systems, announced today that it willlaunch the $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge toraise the wages of at least 100,000 workers by $10,000 or more by 2021.Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF, made the announcement to 800 attendeesat Horizons, JFF’s national summit onJune 13–14 in New Orleans.

JFFLabs,the innovation and strategy arm of JFF, will lead this ideation competition tofind the nation’s most effective and promising ways to meaningfully increaseannual incomes and help close the wage gap. According to the Pew ResearchCenter, the share of national income held bymiddle-class households has decreased to 43 percent—its lowest level since thecenter began publishing income-share data in 1967—while middle-class wageshave grown just 6 percent and low-wage workers’ wages have decreased by 5percent since 1979. The competition is supported by Schmidt Futures andwill be complementary and connected to its efforts in the Alliance for the American Dream

“The $1 Billion Wage GainChallenge will spur innovative thought, share best practices, and accelerateawareness of stagnant wages,” said Flynn. “Perhaps most exciting, it willmaterially change people’s economic well-being.”

The $1 BillionWage Gain Challenge will launch alongside the Alliance for the American Dream, anetwork of four communities (each anchored by a public research university)that will provide access to capital and market for new ideas to supportdistressed communities locally. In its inaugural effort, the Alliance ischallenging citizens to develop policy ideas or startup concepts that increasenet income for 10,000 local, middle-class households by 10 percent by 2020,either by raising income or decreasing cost of living (e.g., in transportation,housing, utilities, food).

“In partnership with JFF, weare excited to introduce the $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge,” said ThomasKalil, chief innovation officer of Schmidt Futures. “We encourage otherinvestors to join us in this bold challenge to find the most successfulsolutions to erasing the wage gap.”

Building on this momentum,at Horizons, JFFLabs also launched a new program to elevate promisingwork-based learning startups. JFFLabs is now accepting applications for a cohort oftech-enabled startups looking to create and scale career advancementopportunities for retail and adjacent sector workers through work-basedlearning strategies.


Horizons brings together 800leading practitioners, policymakers and technology leaders across the K–12 andhigher education and workforce fields, as well as innovators in technology, investing, andcorporate talent development, to explore the newimperatives and solutions related to the future of work and learning. “As the future of work rapidly becomes today’sreality,” said Flynn, “it is critically important that we come together todrive impact and equity.” Notable speakers include Anant Agarwal, CEOof edX; John Battelle, CEO & founder of NewCo; Nisha Patel, executivedirector of US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty; and Alan Krueger,economist, Princeton University.


JFF (Jobs for the Future) isa national nonprofit that accelerates the alignment and transformation of theAmerican workforce and education systems to ensure access to economicadvancement for all. JFF develops innovative programs and public policies thatincrease college readiness and career success and build a more highly skilled,competitive workforce. With 35 years of experience, JFF is a recognizednational leader in bridging education and work to increase economic mobilityand strengthen our economy. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter.