Our Bold Idea
Promoting economic advancement for all is JFF’s singular focus—and we’re transforming the American education and workforce systems to get there. We’re working with schools, corporations, government agencies, and philanthropies to design and scale new ways to help individuals achieve their goals.
But it’s not enough to seed boutique programs or models that are forever dependent on philanthropy. We need to develop programs and tools that can be financed by governments, employers, businesses, and capital markets—an approach that can unlock trillions of dollars to help scale impact. We will do so as a way to close the employment opportunity gap faced by millions of individuals nationwide.
JFF is launching the Financing the Future initiative, a robust national conversation and call to action on reimagining the way that we finance education and skills development. Tinkering around the margins of our existing systems will not make a dent in the massive training needs of many Americans who cannot advance economically without the right skills or get those skills without incurring insurmountable debt. We must modernize the financing of education and training to avoid rationing of programs that can help everyone in the U.S. build the skills that they need to thrive in an increasingly dynamic world of work.
Financing the Future will take a big-tent approach, bringing together the perspectives of stakeholders from across the political spectrum, with input from educators, financiers and the private sector, policymakers, and students themselves. We will grapple with the social contract and the role of public support for education and training. We’ll also examine what roles individuals, corporations, and philanthropies must play if we are to realize our goal of equal opportunity for all.
Over the next few years, we will spur conversation and action across an array of innovative approaches to financing—from income share agreements (ISA) to merit based lending, individual training accounts, and federal aid. There are no silver bullets here. Our work will explore each innovative financing approach and identify the opportunities, the challenges, and the individuals most likely to benefit.
One of our first efforts will explore income share agreements, which are an alternative model for financing higher education and training that ties the amount that students pay to the amount of money they earn after completion.
As is often the case with emergent models, there are risks associated with ISAs. Which is why we believe it is vital that policymakers provide clear definitions, parameters, and consumer protections for students.
Last year, JFF joined a bipartisan group of partners in sending a letter to key members of Congress asking them to pass legislation to create, scale, and regulate income share agreements (ISA) for students who don’t fit the mold for federal financial aid programs. Through our engagement, JFF seeks to clarify the issues, help identify guardrails that ensure responsible innovation and experimentation, and catalyze new equitable ISA models and policies—all with the goal of keeping the needs of learners at the center of the dialogue.
Why JFF Supports an Income Share Agreement
The Value of ISAs
An Income Share Agreement (ISA) is an innovative finance tool used by postsecondary education and training providers to align the cost of education with earnings after graduation. These videos—through student experiences—provide an explanation of ISAs: what they are, how they work, and how they can be utilized in education and training contexts.
Our team is made up of individuals who are experts in the fields of policy, education, technology, workforce, human capital, economic development, and corporate consulting. Together, we bring a diverse set of experiences and skills that amplify the guidance we can offer corporate partners, ensuring that the impact is felt across workers, businesses, and communities.
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