Talent for the Future

At a Glance

Juan left high school and became homeless. But he has skills and drive and found a Back on Track program to help him prepare for a career in IT. JFF helps employers leverage an untapped workforce of low-income young adults like Juan who can fill their talent gaps.






Areas of Work
  • Preparing for the Future of Work
  • Ensuring Equity in Advancement
  • Meeting Employer Needs
Experts Involved
In progress
  • RI
  • CT
  • LA
  • PA
  • CA
  • WA
  • NY
  • ME
  • NE

Our Services

JFF's Back on Track Services

JFF has been working in the field for over a decade to plan, implement, and sustain a portfolio of Back on Track models for youth and young adults who need support to gain a foothold in the labor market and achieve economic advancement.

We help our partners bring their visions and strategies to life with customized support and strong project management. From targeted projects to large, complex, multi-site initiatives, we drive outcomes that matter for young people and their communities.

We offer services in the following areas:

Strategic Assessment and Planning

  • We help communities set a community-specific strategy for long-term advancement and economic mobility for young adults with low incomes, based on local policies, systems, and programs and pathways already in place.
  • We help communities use data to identify off-track and out-of-school/out-of-work young adults to determine the right school and pathway designs to ensure all young people attain the credentials they need.
  • We engage a wide range of stakeholders including employers, postsecondary education and training providers, and public systems to work with schools and community-based organizations to ensure that Back on Track pathways lead to economic advancement for youth and young adults.

Pathway Design and Implementation

  • We help communities design evidenced-based Back on Track pathways that lead to postsecondary and labor market success by identifying and implementing core elements including curricula, instructional strategies, wraparound supports, career exploration, postsecondary and employer partnerships, and youth voice.
  • We provide coaching to individual and networks of programs and schools and their partners to ensure that staff develop the skills and capacities to implement Back on Track pathways that prepare young people to successfully transition to postsecondary education and career-track employment.

R&D and Evaluation

  • We work with communities to use data to strengthen Back on Track program design for continuous improvement to achieve scale and equitable outcomes. Across a range of initiatives, we work strategically with partners to develop logic models, establish measurable goals and performance indicators, advise on data systems, track outcomes, analyze results, and report findings.
  • We help partners assess whether their initiatives are driving real change for people, communities, and systems, especially those most excluded from opportunity.

Sustainability, Scale and Impact

  • We develop financing strategies and models that leverage local assets, including public and private funds, and allocate resources where they are most needed to create Back on Track pathways for economic advancement.
  • We build the field of young adult talent development by convening networks of stakeholders and communities of practice to share knowledge, skills, and strategies on program design and development, and policy and advocacy.
  • We help local and regional partners develop a scaling strategy to expand Back on Track pathways throughout their region and state.

Our Work

Low-income young adults are a fast-growing segment of our future workforce—but they face significant barriers in the labor market, especially as automation and technology reshape the economy. At the same time, they represent an untapped talent pool for employers seeking to fill skilled jobs. Career pathways designed for young adults can help employers tap into this talent pool.

How Our Work Is Unique:

Pathways Tailored to the Individual

JFF’s solutions meet youth where they are and take them where they want to go. The young adults are in the driver’s seat, prepared to make informed choices about which pathway best meets their needs and aspirations. All of our pathways are designed to lead to a living wage.

Pathways Tailored to the Community

Our solutions are flexible and can be adapted to different contexts as well as the range of young adult populations facing barriers to advancement in the labor market. We work with key stakeholders in a community, including employers, system leaders, youth leaders, community-based organizations, schools, and postsecondary institutions, to develop a strategy to build out and scale up a coherent set of pathways.

Field-Building and Knowledge Development

We build the knowledge base around effective practice, elevating what works and scaling practices across networks of communities. We convene thought leaders and innovators around these efforts to share knowledge and spread best practices.

Back on Track Pathways

JFF’s Back on Track pathways contain specific components drawn from best practices, yet they are flexible enough to guide pathway development across a wide range of contexts. Each pathway is organized around distinct, supportive phases, delivered through partnerships, that help young adults develop the skills they need to move along a path to career advancement and economic mobility.

Back on Track: Postsecondary Success

This pathway helps youth and young adults prepare for and transition into degree-granting postsecondary programs of study.

Back on Track: CareerNext

This pathway helps young adults prepare for and transition into occupational training programs that lead to skilled jobs with advancement potential.

For more information about our models and services, contact Lili Allen, Associate Vice President, lallen@jff.org.