Our Policy Work
Secondary Education Policy
JFF believes all students should be prepared for college and career success upon high school completion. Estimates project that roughly 65 percent of future job openings will require some form of postsecondary education beyond high school. As a result, exposure to careers and the opportunity to earn postsecondary credit should be a fundamental part of every student's high school experience. Unfortunately, many of today’s high school students are not receiving high-quality college and career programing, opportunities to participate in work-based learning experiences, guidance on how to select an academic or career pathway, or opportunities to earn postsecondary credit while in high school.
JFF’s policy experts synthesize research, evidence, and input from practitioners and policymakers at the local, regional, and state level to inform critical national education debates. Our policy efforts support investment and scale in promising practices, including college in high school models, dropout recovery pathways, and grades 9–14 career pathways.
Postsecondary Education Policy
Today’s economy demands that job seekers, or those looking to advance in their careers, must obtain postsecondary credentials of value. Unfortunately, our nation’s credential attainment is far below workforce demands and has resulted in millions of Americans without high-quality jobs, and numerous employers unable to find the skilled workers they need to remain competitive. There is a dire need for skilled workers and mounting evidence that postsecondary education has a direct impact on earnings. The shifting needs of the current economy make it clear that to attain real upward mobility, workers will need to be equipped with the education and skills that make them of high value to employers and able to adapt to changes in the workplace.
JFF’s policy experts conduct research and policy analysis that ensures postsecondary and higher education practices best serve today’s students and are actively encouraging the development of postsecondary reforms that accelerate completion and credentials. JFF’s policy experts also contribute to critical national debates on improving postsecondary outcomes and drive policies to support career and guided pathways for underprepared youth and adults.
Workforce Development Policy
Far too many Americans are still without jobs, and far too many employers cannot find the skilled workers they need to remain competitive. Our current unemployment rate translates to 7.8 million Americans who are looking for work, with approximately 2 million of those individuals among the long-term unemployed. And these numbers do not include the many Americans who have given up searching for work, are discouraged, are underemployed, or are marginally attached to the labor force. In addition, stagnating wages have made it harder for Americans to attain family-supporting careers.
JFF’s policy experts design and promote policies to help federal, state, and local communities implement and sustain workforce development programs that demonstrate the most promise. We synthesize research, evidence, and input from practitioners to inform national policy and debate.
Poverty Alleviation Policy
JFF has long supported programs and strategies that prepare low-income individuals for family-supporting careers, understanding that good jobs are key to economic mobility. Even so, a job alone, without adequate supports and skills development, cannot help most individuals on public assistance dig their way out of poverty.
The needs of low-income individuals and families are complex. Americans who are eligible for federal public assistance programs tend to lack the education and skills that lead to family-supporting careers. And many individuals who receive public assistance—whether health care, emergency food, housing, or even income supplements—are already working but make wages so low that they continue to live in poverty and qualify for assistance to meet their families’ basic needs.
To address these challenges, JFF’s policy experts work to design and promote policies that provide expanded opportunities for individuals to attain the skills and credentials needed to secure high-demand, family-supporting careers.