IN THIS ISSUE
- Doubling the Numbers
- College for All
- Toward College Access and Success
- Rebuilding America's Workforce
- How can NEWSWIRE serve you?
I believe that JFF, an organization that spans the educational pipeline from secondary school through adult workforce development, has a distinctive perspective on how this nation can achieve an ambitious, 10-year goal: doubling the number of low-income youth and adults who earn postsecondary credentials or get training that helps them advance to family-sustaining careers.
This NEWSWIRE highlights two publications that help move us toward that goal by focusing on perhaps this nation’s most essential challenge: reengaging young people who have dropped out of school and engaging youth who are in danger of dropping out.
The first publication reports on the groundbreaking work of Philadelphia’s Project U-Turn to take citywide strategic action on behalf of disengaged youth. This effort took a major step forward in 2004 when a national funders collaborative selected Philadelphia to participate in the Youth Transition Funders Group Strategic Assessment Initiative, coordinated by JFF.
The second piece, an Education Week commentary, provides a framework that policy and practice leaders can use in developing statewide approaches to the same challenge.
We at JFF have just completed our 25th year, prepared and poised to undertake an ambitious next generation of work: improving the educational attainment of low-income young people who have been historically underrepresented in higher education.
The growing knowledge base of promising strategies, combined with concerted efforts to match reforms to the circumstances where they are most likely to succeed, can go a long way in helping the nation once again be first in the world in the percentage of our young people who complete high school and earn a postsecondary credential.
—Marlene B. Seltzer, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future
Cities across the country seeking a coordinated strategic approach to reducing dropout rates look to Philadelphia, where a sustained, cross-sector partnership—Project U-Turn—has made significant advances in putting struggling students and out-of-school youth on the public radar and improving options for that population. Mobilizing a Cross-Sector Collaborative for Systemic Change, by JFF’s Lili Allen, draws on Philadelphia’s experience to help other cities focus attention on the dropout crisis and design strategies and leverage investments to resolve it.
Summarizing their recent report Graduating America, JFF’s Cheryl Almeida and Adria Steinberg and Robert Balfanz of the Everyone Graduates Center respond to the new federal priority on turning around the 2,000 high schools known as the nation’s “dropout factories.” As they write, “Policy and practice leaders must decide which strategies to apply, where to apply them, and how each level of government should participate.” To help guide those decisions, research from JFF and the Everyone Graduates Center points to key factors that should inform strategies for transforming or replacing such schools.
Lili Allen arrived at JFF over a decade ago, bringing 15 years of experience in building collaborations between schools and community partners on behalf of urban youth. Today, as part of JFF’s Connected by 25 team, she leads our work with cities that are building portfolios of quality pathways to college-ready graduation for struggling students and out-of-school youth. She convenes a leadership network of five communities—Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon—that are frontrunners in scaling up options for youth who have fallen off track to graduation, helping them build new schools for this population and improve existing ones.
Lili Allen started working with Project U-Turn and the Philadelphia Youth Network in 2005 as part of the Strategic Assessment initiative of the Youth Transitions Funders Group. “I was impressed with the steps they were taking to make sure their collaborative got off to a strong start,” she says. “At that time, there were already lessons I could take to other cities with which we work—especially on shaping a collaborative agenda.”
Ms. Allen provides technical assistance to cross-sector partnerships in cities that are at the front end of analyzing data on off-track and out-of-school youth and creating schools that respond to their needs. She has authored or co-authored essential guides for school reformers, most recently a comprehensive toolkit for schools that wish to create, broaden, and deepen their postsecondary partnerships for maximum impact on college-going.
Calculating Cost-Return for Investments in Student Success, a joint report of JFF and the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity, and Accountability, introduces a valuable tool: The Investing in Student Success Cost-Return Calculator. This resource, designed to help campus and program administrators compare the costs of student success programs to the impact of those programs on student retention, is the featured product of a collaboration of JFF and the Delta Project. In 2007 and 2008, the 13 colleges and universities in the Investing in Student Success project, funded by the Walmart Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education, explored whether first-year programs designed to improve student retention are cost-effective investments for colleges.
“Building Community: The Future of Higher Education May Depend on the Success of Community Colleges,” in the January issue of State Legislatures magazine, provides an overview and legislative perspective on the important role of community colleges in maintaining our nation’s economic and educational competitiveness. The article strongly endorses the role of Achieving the Dream and other efforts to make community college student success an issue of national importance.
In the latest issue of Achieving Success, a policy newsletter published by JFF for Achieving the Dream, two state leaders reflect on the initiative, what their states have accomplished with its help, lessons they have learned from their participation, and how states can continue to leverage the progress they have made.
This issue of Achieving Success also introduces a new regular feature: the Developmental Education Initiative page. Launched in summer 2009, the DEI includes an ambitious, three-year effort by six Achieving the Dream states to use policy levers to dramatically improve student success in developmental education. JFF leads the state policy component of the DEI, as it does for Achieving the Dream.
A new brochure details the origins, mission, and strategies of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, a partnership unprecedented in its scope. Nearly 200 funders are investing millions of dollars in local communities to help get people back to work and ensure that American businesses can compete. The national investors provide seed money—$23 million in commitments to date—to regions for building local approaches to job training and career development. Two national partners, JFF and the Council on Foundations, provide direct support to the regional collaboratives and workforce partnerships supported by the National Fund.
To inform efforts to improve the U.S. workforce development system, this brief from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions describes its principles for effective efforts to make the system better for workers, employers, and regions.
The Baseline Evaluation Report describes the National Fund in its first implementation phase, including how a changing environment has begun shaping its strategy and tactics. Because the report will serve as a baseline for future evaluations of the initiative, it describes the goals, strategies, characteristics, and initial outcomes of the National Fund in its early stages.
The evaluation found that between fall 2007 and spring 2009 the National Fund raised some $22 million nationally and leveraged $100 million in pledged local funding to expand workforce services for employers and low-income workers, implement promising models for delivering services, and drive reform in workforce institutions and employer practices.
Jobs for the Future identifies, develops, and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states, and the nation compete in a global economy. In nearly 200 communities in 41 states, JFF improves the pathways leading from high school to college to family-sustaining careers.