JFF Announces the Workforce Transformation Corps Initiative


Jobs for the Future (JFF), with support from The James Irvine Foundation, is offering five local workforce development boards (LWDBs) in California an opportunity to identify promising approaches for adopting human-centered design principles within their organizations. This opportunity will utilize a fellowship model where the five selected LWDBs will host and work collaboratively with a “workforce transformation fellow” trained in human-centered design thinking. Workforce transformation fellows will collaborate with workforce board staff members to identify current pain points, needs, and place-based considerations that inform a focused and strategic approach to more customer-centered people, programs, products, policies, and partnerships.

The five fellows will be:

  • Embedded within organizations for no less than 30 hours a week for a period of 12 months;
  • Selected through a competitive hiring process and trained in design thinking practices customized for the public workforce system; and
  • Fully funded through the initiative.

Participating LWDBs will be matched with a fellow who has indicated regional proximity to the workforce board’s service region and committed to spend no less than one day per week on-site. Fellows will work with LWDB leadership, staff, and other stakeholders to identify, clarify, and propose solutions to a specific human-centered design challenge within the host organization.

Opportunity: Join the Workforce Transformation Corps Initiative

All local workforce development boards in California are eligible to apply. Successful applicants must demonstrate a need for additional design thinking capacity within their organization as well as a plan to host and support a fellow within their organization for a successful and meaningful engagement. LWDBs will not be required to provide any portion of the fellow’s salary or benefits or serve as the employer of record. Turning Basin Labs will serve as the employer of record for all participating fellows and, as such, will manage all salaries and benefits. However, preference will be given to applicants that can demonstrate in-kind matching funds or other forms of leveraged resources and support to help bolster the reach and impact of this engagement.

Benefits of Participation

  • Full-time workforce transformation fellow for 12 months
  • Where applicable, project partners will support participating workforce boards in requesting a performance waiver for WIOA Performance Measures to allow for experimentation in service delivery and programmatic design
  • $20,000 sub award to support the work of the fellow. For example, funds might be applied to support existing staff as they work in close partnership with the fellow
  • Advisory services provided by CivicMakers to support iteration and implementation of works co-created by WDBs and their respective fellow
  • Human-centered design professional development for one staff person along with the fellow
  • Digital communications on JFF’s national publishing platform highlighting fellow and workforce board engagement and innovations

Are You Interested?

An informational session will be hosted to dive deeper on the opportunity. The RFP application and project timeline are as follows:

  • August 29, 2022 - Applications open
  • September 14, 2022 - Informational webinar: watch the replay and review the slides.
  • October 3, 2022 - Applications close
  • October 17, 2022 - WDBs are selected
  • November 30, 2022 - Fellows are selected and assigned
  • January 1, 2023 - Fellows begin their 12-month engagement with assigned WDB
  • December 31, 2023 - Fellows present recommendations and finish their engagement

Submit your application here.

Background and Context: Why Workforce Transformation?

In 2021, with funding and support from The James Irvine Foundation, a group of partners that included Make Fast Studio, Aspen Labs, Jobs For the Future, Turning Basin Labs, the California Workforce Association and CivicMakers set out to explore the degree to which human-centered design principles were present in workforce boards in California and across the country. The goal of this work was to develop a set of tools to help guide LWDBs toward discovering a more empathetic organizational body language. We hypothesized that by changing this body language, and the practices and policies that underlie it, workforce boards will deliver more equitable and meaningful outcomes to those they serve.

With insights gained from interviews with LWDB leaders, community-based organizations, and learner-workers, we developed a “maturity model” that maps LWDB behaviors along a spectrum of customer and community engagement.

Now, in order to solve the deep structural barriers facing the public workforce system, JFF, along with these partners, is establishing a Workforce Transformation Corps. This group will initially be comprised of five full-time fellows tasked with utilizing the maturity model to drive human-centered innovations alongside five California-based workforce development boards.


You’re invited to learn more about JFF’s latest initiative with The James Irvine Foundation to transform the public workforce system! Check out the replay to learn more about the Workforce Transformation Corps Initiative for which your organization may be eligible and discover how LWDBs can be part of the transition to build a more human-centered public workforce system. Any local workforce development board in California is eligible to apply.

What: Workforce Transformation Corps Initiative Informational Webinar

Where: Watch the replay

Questions? Contact Ben Sommer for additional questions.