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Practices & Centers

Policy & Advocacy

Advancing evidence-based policy for education 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 transforming education 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

Blog

Bipartisan Progress Is Possible: Advice for Congress in 2023

As a narrowly divided Congress gets to work, pundits and policymakers alike predict more gridlock and less legislative action in 2023. However, there were several cross-party accomplishments in the 117th Congress that offer grounds for optimism.

Blog

We Must Act Now to Prevent the Next Student Debt Crisis

President Biden’s student debt relief plan will only temporarily reduce the country’s overall student debt burden. To avoid a return of the crisis, JFF urges policymakers to take bold steps to fix what’s broken in higher education and find new ways to pay for postsecondary education and training.

Blog

5 Actions States Should Take to Help People Rebound, Spur Job Growth, and Transform Education and Workforce Development Systems

Here are five concrete steps state policymakers can take to fuel their state’s equitable economic recovery.

Tool

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.

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.


Team

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

Director

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

Director

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.