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Practices & Centers

Policy & Advocacy

We are advancing evidence-based policy to enact changes in the education system and the workforce.
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We believe in the power of nonpartisan policy reform to create conditions for all to thrive.

Nearly half of U.S. workers are in low-paying jobs. Systemic issues in education, employment, and workforce development prevent millions of people from advancing economically and threaten our 10-year goal of 75 million people working in quality jobs.

The Policy & Advocacy team at Jobs for the Future leads the national conversation on equitable economic advancement, influences state and national discussions, and designs practice-informed solutions. Our work is bold and field-tested, and we work on both sides of the aisle.

Key Initiatives

Policy Solutions for Equitable Economic Advancement

We champion practice-informed, nonpartisan policy approaches for changes in the education system and workforce systems. We provide expert guidance to federal and state policymakers and other stakeholders through forums and institutes, subject-matter expertise, and design and implementation assistance.

Financing the Future

We explore innovative ideas for financing education to increase affordability, quality, and employer engagement.


News & Ideas


Driving Improved Workforce Outcomes Through Data Access, Alignment, and Integration

Recommendations from the Workforce Transformation Policy Council In 2023, JFF and the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) formed the Task Force on Data Access, Alignment and Integration for Improved Workforce Outcomes, an offshoot of the…

May 22, 2024

No Dead Ends: A Policy Agenda Both Sides Can Agree On

This Election Year, Help Us Put an End to Dead Ends at Work, at School, and in Life

March 4, 2024

Recommendations for a Fully Funded and Transformed Workforce Development System

In this brief, Jobs for the Future (JFF) presents our policy recommendations for overhauling the U.S. workforce development and postsecondary education systems—and putting millions more people on pathways to quality jobs. Recommendations   Endnotes This…

March 25, 2024

Featured Projects

Financing the Future

JFF’s Financing the Future initiative reimagines the way we finance education and skills development.

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Federal Policymaker Networks

JFF’s Congressional Staff and Executive Branch Networks on Economic Advancement connect federal policymakers with practitioners from across the country to learn about evidence-based, replicable, and innovative practices that meet the nation’s most complex education and workforce challenges.

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Policy Leadership Trust

JFF established the Policy Leadership Trust to marshal evidence, expertise, and insights of postsecondary practitioners to influence the direction of state and federal policy. Community college leaders and state system officials serving on the trust identify how policy can help more learners and workers attain credentials and skills and succeed in the labor market.

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When Policy Meets Practice Podcast Series

Hosted by longtime higher education journalist Paul Fain, the podcast features conversations with prominent community college leaders about the policy approaches that work best for workers, learners, and employers, and those that fall short.

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Impact Stories

Essential for a Post-COVID Economy: Recommendations for a Fully Funded and Transformed Workforce Development System

The United States has been long overdue for transformation of its postsecondary education and workforce development systems, and the pandemic exponentially increased the need.

State Policy Framework for Building Equitable Pathways

This tool was co-created with input from Building Equitable Pathways' Community of Practice members to support policy improvement.

Exploring Racial and Gender Differences in ISA Contract Terms and Repayment Patterns

Income share agreements (ISAs) have garnered significant excitement as a new tool to finance postsecondary education. JFF analyzed a proprietary data set of ISA contract holders and found no consistent and significant favorability toward one racial/ethnic or gender group over another.


Karishma Merchant

Associate Vice President 

Karishma Merchant is associate vice president of Policy & Advocacy at JFF. She leads nonpartisan engagement with federal and state policymakers to craft education and workforce policies that drive equitable economic advancement for all. Before…

David Bradley

Senior Director

David Bradley is a senior director in the Policy & Advocacy practice at JFF. He works with policy leaders and practitioners to identify workforce development best practices. His responsibilities include designing and planning activities of…

Mary Gardner Clagett

Senior Director

Mary Gardner Clagett is a senior director in the Policy & Advocacy practice at JFF. She works with workforce policy leaders and practitioners nationwide to shape effective policy recommendations for U.S. workers and the U.S.…

Ethan Pollack

Senior Director

Ethan Pollack is a senior director in the Policy & Advocacy practice at JFF. He leads the Financing the Future initiative, which explores new approaches to financing postsecondary education. He tracks the evolution and performance…

David Altstadt


David Altstadt is a director in the Policy & Advocacy practice at JFF. He develops nonpartisan policy solutions and cultivates partnerships with policymakers, practitioners, and advocates to influence the direction of national and state policies…

Erica Cuevas


Erica Cuevas is a director in the Policy & Advocacy practice at JFF. She leads policy analysis, research, advocacy, and communications efforts to strengthen federal and state policy to spur innovation and improve pathways across…

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The Policy & Advocacy team at Jobs for the Future and our network of expert partners are available to help with analysis and recommendations, strategic outreach, advocacy and convenings, and more. Contact us to learn more about how you can partner with us or support our work, and subscribe for updates.