Scaling JFF’s Back on Track Model: Lessons for the Field
By Lili Allen, associate vice president, JFF
Communities across the country have scaled JFF’s Back on Track model beyond one-off pathways initiatives and have used it as the basis for community-wide and regional programs and initiatives.
Our January 2019 paper on JFF’s Opportunity Works initiative told the story of how seven communities scaled Back on Track in their regions. Now the communities involved in The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) initiative are also laying the groundwork for scaling Back on Track.
Luis, Javan, and Justin turned their lives around with help from Opportunity Works.
In collaboration with JFF and other national partners, the Foundation has selected four sites implementing Back on Track for system-involved youth to expand their pathways to reach far more young people.
We are seeing a number of key strategies emerge across these initiatives. Among other things, sites are:
- Using a common framework to help community-based organizations, postsecondary partners, and system leaders clarify roles and responsibilities.
- Aligning workforce programming around a common model.
- Using a cross-sector collaborative to begin discussions on scaling Back on Track early on, so that all system leaders see the potential for expanding pathways.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those strategies.
Use of a common framework. The Back on Track model is made up of core features across three phases of programming from re-engagement to postsecondary credentials, and a range of partners can deliver the core features so that it’s clear who is doing what. For example, the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation will be training counselors from the state child welfare system to deliver components of Back on Track as part of their work with young people who are transitioning out of foster care.
Alignment of workforce programming around a common model. Capital Workforce Partners in Hartford, Connecticut, bases its request for proposals (RFP) for WIOA out-of-school youth programming around the Back on Track model, so that all providers in the region are using a common approach to helping young people transition into occupational training programs that lead to family-sustaining careers.
Use of a cross-sector collaborative. In Philadelphia, the citywide collaborative effort known as Project U-Turn served as the locus of discussions about how to take lessons from the GED-to-college program launched under Opportunity Works and scale Back on Track across the city. They decided to implement Back on Track in the city’s alternative schools, which are funded through a school district RFP.