JFF’s Workforce Communities of Action: Transforming Ideas Into Action Sections Introduction The Workforce Communities of Action Activities and Timeline Benefits of Participation Questions Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share via Email Introduction Across the country, local economies are feeling the impacts of supply chain shortages, inflation, labor market fluctuations, the ongoing pandemic, continued racial injustice, and climate change. As workforce development boards and American Job Centers look to support their communities’ efforts to rebound and recover, they face a variety of complex challenges—predominantly the challenge of being constrained by policies and funding mechanisms that have failed to keep pace with evolving worker, learner, and market needs. Jobs for the Future (JFF) is asking organizations to bring their expansive vision and out-of-the-box thinking to life through a unique initiative whose goal is to develop community-centered and equity-driven solutions to address some of the nation’s most pervasive workforce challenges.JFF, with support from JPMorgan Chase Foundation, selected 20 state and local workforce development boards across the country to participate in an opportunity make meaningful, lasting change in their communities by devising innovative solutions to challenges that impact regional economies.The workforce boards selected to take part in this experience are known as Workforce Communities of Action. They will engage in a strategically designed and facilitated process for collaboratively thinking about and solving problems through a variety of critical lenses.The Workforce Communities of Action model aims to strengthen workforce professionals’ ability to identify and solve complex urgent issues. With support from CivicMakers—a strategic consultancy offering community-driven solution design and delivery services—along with JFF and a team of nationally recognized workforce advisors, participants will thoroughly explore and communicate their problems in a structured environment and then identify viable action plans that are tied to measurable impacts defined with their community partners. Interested in public workforce transformation? Stay in the loop about JFF’s work to help create a future-focused public workforce system: Subscribe Now!right The Workforce Communities of Action We are pleased to announce the 2023 Workforce Communities of Action Pilot Cohort:Willamette Workforce Partnership, Salem, OregonCuyahoga County Jobs & Families Services, Cleveland, OhioSCPa Works, Harrisburg, PennsylvaniaRegion III Workforce Development Board of Kanawha County, Charleston, West VirginiaArizona Office of Economic Opportunity, Phoenix, State of ArizonaWorkforce Development Board of Ventura County / County of Ventura, Oxnard, CaliforniaWorkforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, Corpus Christi, TexasWorkforce Development Board of Solano County, Fairfield, CaliforniaWorkforce Solutions Borderplex, El Paso, TexasLake County Workforce Development Board, Waukegan, IllinoisAlliance for Strategic Growth d/b/a Eastern Indiana Works, Muncie, IndianaSanta Barbara County Workforce Development Board, Santa Barbara, CaliforniaHampton Roads Workforce Council, Hampton Roads, VirginiaMississippi Valley Workforce Development Board, West Burlington, IowaColorado Workforce Development Center/Colorado Department of Labor, Denver, ColoradoCounty of Los Angeles Department of Economic Opportunity, Los Angeles, CaliforniaSouthern Indiana Works Workforce Development Board, New Albany, IndianaNevadaworks - Northern Nevada’s Workforce Development Board, Reno, Northern NevadaPhiladelphia Works, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaCentral Florida Regional Workforce Development Board, Orlando, Florida Activities and Timeline The three phases of Workforce Communities of Action include:Local and state workforce development boards were invited to apply for Workforce Communities of Action in late April 2023. They were asked to identify a complex workforce challenge impacting their community and respond to a series of questions identifying their readiness and ability to participate in the WCA experience. They were also asked to identify which of the following future-focused behaviors they felt would be most impactful in addressing their challenge:Opportunity-OrientedData-ObsessedHuman-CenteredTech-EnabledThese four behaviors have helped shape JFF’s Workforce Transformation Strategy. Through extensive research conducted from 2018 to 2020, these behaviors were found to be shared across many of the nation’s leading workforce development boards.After careful review of all applications, 20 communities were selected to advance to the next phase: Ideation.Over the course of six months, the communities will spend roughly 16 hours participating in a series of virtual discovery and design sessions with their peers. Each participant's experience will be thoughtfully curated by JFF and CivicMakers based on information submitted through the application process to ensure a valuable and productive experience for all selected organizations.Participants will closely analyze their challenge and develop a detailed problem statement that examines the “who,” “what,” and “why,” of their challenge and provides supporting evidence, discusses its potential impact, and introduces a hypothesis and a proposed plan to test this hypothesis. These questions will be explored through a focused and collaborative process facilitated by CivicMakers. Along the way, teams will have the opportunity to learn from consultants and advisors who can lend insight to design best practices, implementation models, and cutting-edge approaches being explored across the country. These experts will be carefully selected by JFF based on alignment of their knowledge and background to the needs of participating communities.This process is intended to provide workforce professionals with the mindset, strategies, processes, and tools needed to thoughtfully and thoroughly examine localized issues while applying an equity lens and human-centered design principles.At the close of the design and discovery sessions, JFF and our team of workforce advisors will identify four communities to receive $10,000 to advance their action plans from concept to proposal as part of Phase 3: Activation.Teams selected for the Activation phase will have successfully developed an action plan that demonstrates the following:A creative, bold, and equitable approach to identifying or addressing the participant's challengeIdentifies key stakeholders and critical partners necessary to further investigating or addressing the challenge and the roles these stakeholder and partners must playA clear plan for engaging with and centering the community in future investigative or implementation activities.Identifies necessary resources, assets, and capacities needed for taking the next step in investigating or addressing the challengeA clear set of goals objectives for the next stage of the participant's workFour selected communities will receive $10,000 in seed funding and will work closely with JFF and workforce advisors to continue identifying critical next steps that lead to action and change. Next steps may include additional required research, capacity building, planning, or in some cases, implementation of a fully developed concept proposal.Prior to the conclusion of the project period, JFF will work with finalists to identify a list of potential philanthropic funders that may be interested in supporting the project. It is JFF’s hope that the $10,000 in seed funding will be used to support ongoing efforts to secure additional funding needed to implement new ideas, innovative approaches, and bold ideas—though specific plans for taking those steps won’t be a requirement for receiving the seed funding. Benefits of Participation Participants in the Workforce Communities of Action initiative will . . .Have an opportunity to engage in collaborative problem-solving and knowledge-sharing with other future-focused workforce boards across the country;Gain access to a no-cost professional development opportunity for workforce board leaders and staff members;Gain insights and learn about tools for approaching collaborative problem-solving utilizing human-centered design and equity principles;Work closely with JFF and nationally recognized advisors to address a high-priority, complex problem in their region;Use this opportunity to inform and support other broad-scale initiatives such as the Good Jobs Challenge or Job Quality Academy; andLeverage JFF’s funding expertise and relationships to potentially identify a funder for a pilot concept to address a regional need. Questions For questions about Workforce Communities of Action, please contact Genna Petrolla. To learn more about JFF’s work to create a future-focused public workforce system, please visit Co-Creating a Future-Focused Workforce System on JFF.org.