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Workforce & Regional Economies Capabilities

How states, regions, and local entities can partner with JFF on federal funding opportunities and other efforts
Key Initiatives

The Workforce & Regional Economies practice at JFF has partnered with dozens of state, regional, and local partners across multiple federal grants to support transformation of the public workforce system and development of inclusive regional economies that center worker needs, create sector partnerships in high-growth industries, and scale innovation at the local level. We help our partners build capacity, respond to stakeholder needs, and contribute to a strong regional economy. 

The federal government is making unprecedented investments in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing, and technology, with funding flowing to local, regional, state, and national workforce and economic development entities. These investments could bolster economic advancement for individuals and families across the United States by focusing on quality jobs and access to work-based training opportunities. Now more than ever, states, regions, local governments, and their partnering organizations are successfully accessing federal funding to advance their workforce and economic development goals. They could benefit from a trusted, renowned national catalytic intermediary that can support them with strategic planning, workforce partnerships, and implementation efforts. 

Are you exploring an upcoming or implementing a current federal grant or contract opportunity focused on workforce transformation, inclusive regional economic development, sector strategies and partnerships, job quality, or bringing new or proven technology platforms or innovation to scale in your community or region? Contact Jen Horton via the form at the bottom of this page to discuss how JFF can help advance your goals.

Practices & Centers

Workforce & Regional Economies Capabilities

JFF helps our partners interested in workforce and regional economies build capacity, respond to stakeholder needs, and contribute to a strong regional economy. One way we do this is by partnering with local, regional, and state entities on federal grants and contracts. From collaborating with you on federal proposals and funding opportunities to helping your city, region, or town develop new sector-focused programs to scaling existing workforce development partnerships, we offer a broad menu of services to support your important work.

Workforce & Regional Economies Menu of Services:   

Strategic planning and program design
JFF works with leaders across the learn-and-work ecosystem, including K-12 and higher education, economic development, industry, and labor, to help design bold and equitable solutions that support pathways to quality jobs. Our team can provide comprehensive asset mapping, tailored coaching, technical assistance, and consultation to individuals and teams, using our deep content and population expertise, data capabilities, and inclusive networks. 
Building inclusive economic development strategies 
JFF incorporates equity-centered and population-specific practices, considers the place-based conditions affecting regional communities and economies, and supports the development of inclusive partnerships and action that employ local assets and community organizations. 
Advisory services on equitable design, including population-specific strategies
JFF provides expertise on integrating equity in each design stage to ensure economic advancement for all, including specific populations (such as Black and Latine workers, women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, people with records, and immigrants, among other populations). For example, JFF’s National Innovation Hub for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Registered Apprenticeship offers strategies and customized support to employers, education providers, intermediaries, and government entities to drive diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in Registered Apprenticeship.  
Sourcing, vetting, and scaling quality training partners
JFF helps partners identify the most critical and high-quality players to drive transformation across regional economies through comprehensive field and market scans (such as asset maps and other analyses) to identify promising programs and innovations. We assist with vetting and selecting potential partners with the capacity and commitment to implement solutions quickly. JFF has also helped states operationalize Education Quality Outcomes Standards (EQOS) to move learners and workers from confusion to clarity through new, equitable career navigation models that provide personalized lifelong learning experiences and advise employers about ways to benefit from trusted, reliable information to judge whether a candidate’s credentials mean what they claim. 
Employer engagement strategies
JFF collaborates with organizations to design and build customized products, platforms, and tools that utilize regional data to solve a range of education and workforce challenges. JFF also works strategically with partners to develop logic models; establish measurable goals and performance indicators; advise on data systems and processes; track outcomes; analyze, interpret, and visualize results; and report findings. 
Convening regional meetings and events 
JFF relies on the latest tools, strategies, and technologies to design interactive, dynamic experiences—whether in person or remotely—that engage audiences from the start and elevate awareness, build capacity, scale change, and inspire and stimulate action at all levels of implementation. 

Overview of Our Federal Grants and Contracts Work  

Below are current or recent examples from JFF’s federal and state grants and contracts related to Workforce & Regional Economies.  

Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program  

In September 2023, JFF received a $4.8 million contract to provide technical assistance and performance management support to the Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program and its grantees. Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program will help grant recipients design, develop, and grow training programs and work-based learning opportunities that prepare jobseekers for high-demand, high-quality career pathways in advanced manufacturing, information technology, and professional, scientific, and technical service occupations. The training will support jobs in the renewable energy, transportation, and broadband infrastructure sectors created through the administration’s infrastructure investments. 

Advisory services provided:

Building inclusive economic development strategies
Advisory services on equitable design, including population-specific strategies
Sourcing, vetting, and scaling quality training partners
Research, evaluation, and analytics
Convening regional meetings and events 

Good Jobs Challenge  

JFF is leading a national community of practice and providing technical assistance to the 32 regional partnerships working to expand access to quality jobs in the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $500 million Good Jobs Challenge. Funded by the federal American Rescue Plan, the Good Jobs Challenge has awarded a total of $500 million in grants to 32 regional workforce partnerships, using the funds to develop industry-led training programs with the goal of placing 50,000 U.S. workers into quality jobs 

JFF is proud to partner with the U.S. Economic Development Administration as leader of the challenge’s national community of practice. We support the regional workforce partnership grantees in building professional networks, engaging in peer learning, and sharing best practices through technical assistance to ensure their projects support equitable economic advancement.   

Beyond this work, JFF developed the Quality Jobs Framework, which lays out an approach to creating jobs that all workers deserve—offering not just a living wage and good benefits but also stability, flexibility, autonomy, and career advancement opportunities. 

Advisory services provided: 

Strategic planning and program design
Employer engagement strategies
Sourcing, vetting, and scaling quality training partners
Convening regional meetings and events 

 

The Equity Target Population Fund
JFF is providing technical assistance to nine workforce organizations across California through the Equity Target Population Fund initiative in the state’s Employment Development Department. The fund aims to support innovative projects that accelerate equity in employment and develop employment strategies for populations that face significant barriers to employment. JFF’s technical assistance approach includes leading a community of practice focused on cross-cutting workforce best practices, as well as population-specific learning labs informed by listening sessions that bring in worker and learner perspectives on their experiences in training programs.

Advisory services provided: 

Advisory services on equitable design, including population-specific strategies
Sourcing, vetting, and scaling quality training partners
Employer engagement strategies

Job Quality Academy  

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Quality Academy, designed and operated in partnership with JFF and other national partners, presents a unique opportunity to help the workforce system focus on enhancing good jobs and opportunities for workers. This may be achieved via new types of partnerships that support industry sectors that lack quality jobs. The academy seeks to provide teams with the knowledge and expertise to build the principles of a good job into their policies and programs. 

Advisory services provided: 

Advisory services on equitable design, including population-specific strategies
Strategic planning and program design
Sourcing, vetting, and scaling quality training partners
Employer engagement strategies
Convening regional meetings and events

 

Empire State Development, New York State  

JFF partnered with Empire State Development, New York State’s chief economic development agency, to provide workforce development guidance documents showing a clear understanding of how the department will prioritize and seek to develop successful workforce development projects throughout the state. JFF also helped create uniform outcomes metrics to determine and develop statewide performance indicators, including review and testing of metrics and providing relevant and appropriate assessments and public-facing documents. 

Advisory services provided: 

Strategic planning and program design
Research, evaluation, and analytics

Are you exploring an upcoming or implementing a current federal grant or contract opportunity focused on workforce transformation, inclusive regional economic development, sector strategies and partnerships, job quality, or bringing new or proven technology platforms or innovation to scale in your community or region? Contact Jen Horton via the form at the bottom of this page to discuss how JFF can help advance your goals. 

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