Jobs for the Future (JFF) is a national nonprofit that works to ensure educational and economic opportunity for all. JFF develops innovative career pathways, educational resources, and public policies that increase college readiness and career success and build a more highly skilled workforce. With over 30 years of experience, JFF is the national leader in bridging education and work to increase mobility and strengthen our economy.
In 2012, JFF and the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE)—in collaboration with states and regions—launched the Pathways to Prosperity Network. The Pathways to Prosperity Network seeks to ensure that many more youth complete high school, attain postsecondary credentials with currency in the labor market, and launch careers while leaving open the prospect of further education. Key stakeholders from education, business, and government lead the work in each Network state and region, committing to at least three years of membership with the long-term goal of creating statewide systems of rigorous, relevant, and engaging grade 9-14 career pathways that serve most students. Pathways focus on high-growth sectors of the economy, including STEM fields such as information technology, health care, and advanced manufacturing.
The Pathways approach is guided by five key implementation levers:
- Rigorous academic and career 9-14 pathways
High schools and community colleges create grades 9-14 college and career pathways, with programs of study, timelines, costs, and work-based learning requirements linking and integrating high school and postsecondary curricula and aligning both with labor market needs.
- Early, sustained career information and advising systems
Starting in the middle grades, students are exposed to a wide range of career options, information, and opportunities to learn about high school and postsecondary courses of study leading to careers. Students engage in a 9-14 continuum of work-based learning opportunities in their chosen career areas. Intermediaries, employers, and community-based organizations help young people make informed choices throughout each 9-14 pathway.
- Engaged employers
Employers commit to providing a continuum of work-based learning opportunities throughout the 9-14 pathway. Employers collaborate with educators and are supported by intermediaries in structuring and managing workplace learning. Employers support students’ transitions into state and regional labor markets.
Local or regional linking organizations (e.g., Chambers of Commerce, workforce boards, community-based organizations) serve as conveners, brokers, and technical assistance providers to schools, community colleges, and employers engaged in building and sustaining pathways. A steering committee of regional leaders establishes the vision and sets goals and outcomes collectively for pathways design and implementation.
- Committed state leaders and favorable policy environment
State dual enrollment policies provide access to postsecondary education for low-income students. Districts and community colleges have financial incentives and sustainable funding to provide 9-14 career-focused programs of study leading to diplomas, certificates, or associate’s degrees. Accountability systems weigh dual enrollment courses as they weigh AP and IB. The state provides incentives for employers and unions to provide work experience opportunities.