JFF in California: Inclusive Regional Economic Development
California has the fifth largest economy in the world and is home to some of the wealthiest people, yet throughout the state, communities struggle to make ends meet. While the economy is working for some, many people, especially those within historically marginalized groups, aren’t benefitting. Statewide, many regions struggle economically, while others prosper. Rising income inequality, wage stagnation, and disparities in health and housing limit opportunities to learn, work, and gain economic mobility. To make matters worse, communities without skilled workers can’t attract high-quality jobs, impactful investment, or businesses to grow, perpetuating a cycle of underemployment and financial insecurity.
But it doesn’t have to be this way: we can have an economy that works for everyone. California deserves inclusive economic development—the creation of an equitable economy that everyone can contribute to and benefit from, regardless of where you are from or who you are.
Our Approach: a new way of spurring economic development
Based on the complex nature of the growing inequality in California, JFF has recognized the need to do economic development differently. Rather than rely just on traditional growth strategies that prioritize the attraction of outside capital, businesses, and workers, JFF focuses on building resiliency and advancing shared prosperity in communities. JFF works in regions to co-design strategies that recognize the interdependence of economic development with human capital and place-based conditions that affect an individual’s economic mobility like racial segregation, social cohesion, and land use.
- Design – We build and prototype new models for the field that bridge the connection between the private market and community partners through technical assistance, research, project management, strategic planning, and facilitation.
- Scale – We curate solutions that have potential to spur statewide high-road employment models and economic prosperity and leverage our CA Future Ready network to catalyze regional cross-sector partnerships.
- Influence – We elevate the narrative that civic engagement and power-building, environmental justice, and racial equity need to be critical pieces of an inclusive economic development strategy and make policy recommendations that target the removal of the structural barriers to employment and economic mobility.
- Invest – We broker connections between impact investors, corporate philanthropy, and other private funding sources to develop innovative platforms for employer-driven investment in regional activities that stimulate inclusive economic development.
Future Ready California Network
The Future Ready California Network is an open learning community of leaders working across institutional, regional and sectoral boundaries to improve regional income and social mobility outcomes and drive inclusive regional growth. We strive to tackle complex regional challenges collaboratively while building capacity through sharing and learning and elevating emerging solutions. Moreover, we hope to turn our ideas of thinking differently about growth, people and place into a movement for building resiliency and advancing shared prosperity in communities. We believe diversity, equity, and inclusion enhance learning and fuel innovation, and we welcome leaders across California who represent diverse voices to be a part of the community and join the movement to uplift every part of California.