JFF Announces New Executives in Residence Program for Education and Future of Work Pioneers

JFF, a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems, has introduced a new class of Executives in Residence managed by JFFLabs, a team within JFF that designs and scales new technology-enabled approaches to promoting economic advancement. Here are the new JFFLabs EIRs (in alphabetical order), with a look at the initiatives they’ll be working on:

Shelly Bell, Founder and CEO of Black Girl Ventures, will conduct research to uncover the skills required to build and sustain entrepreneurship as a career pathway in communities of colour, determine how those skills are and should be measured, and explore new ways to standardize these skills through a digital credential.
Michael Lawrence Collins, Vice President at JFF, joins the group in his capacity as an Innovation [email protected], generously supported by a grant from IBM. He will research pathways that can dramatically increase the number and proportion of Black learners and workers in high-wage, high-growth industries, such as IT and health care.
Alex Hernandez, Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at the University of Virginia, is partnering with JFFLabs to launch UVA Edge, a one-year, online program, that combines the human skills needed for career advancement—like communications, data analysis and ethics—with in-demand digital skills. UVA Edge is a new pathway to invest in the success of the 75 million adults without college degrees.
Sharon Leu, Former Senior Policy Advisor, Higher Education, at the U.S. Department of Education, will investigate national credentials networks and the technology and policy infrastructure needed for creating economic opportunity. She will make recommendations on the partnerships, technologies, and investments necessary to build a U.S. national credentials network.

“It is imperative to reimagine new ways to reach and serve individuals who have faced structural barriers to social and economic mobility—this includes exploring the critical role technology serves to increase access to educational and workforce opportunity,” said Kristina Francis, executive director of JFF Labs, “This extraordinary group of entrepreneurs and leaders—and the issues they have chosen to focus on as EIRs—can help us to solve defining challenges for our time, promoting true upward mobility and a more equitable economy.”

Selected from a diverse group of entrepreneurs and industry leaders, each of the executives will focus on high-profile issues related to the use of data to improve equity in education and workforce outcomes, incubating programs that can either be launched within JFF or spun off and led by their own organizations. Each EIR will author and publish original publications about the impact of their research on the challenges they want to address, contributing to the field’s understanding of complex topics at the intersection of policy, practice, and private-sector innovation.

The EIRs will receive funding to support their work, and they will receive staff support from members of the JFFLabs team, who will help them produce market scans, incubate products and services, and develop go-to-market strategies. They will also benefit from collaboration with JFF’s team of more than 100 subject matter experts and project leads, whose expertise spans specific disciplines and topics ranging from apprenticeship and work-based learning to postsecondary education and corporate training.

“The gravity of the country’s economic and social challenges requires us to take an equally bold approach that marshals the best of private-sector innovation, public policy expertise, and the perspectives of educators and practitioners on the ground,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF. “This work represents a key part of our dual transformation strategy: accelerating reform within incumbent education and workforce systems as they exist today, while catalyzing innovation among entrepreneurs who can help us envision something even better.”

Over the next two years, JFFLabs will select up to three cohorts of EIRs per year, and each cohort will have up to five EIRs. JFF plans to review requests to join the EIR program on a rolling basis. For more information, contact [email protected].

About JFF: JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For more than 35 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. Join us as we build a future that works. www.jff.org

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