I have been retained by Boston-based Jobs for the Future (JFF) to serve as a subject-matter expert (SME) on economic development under a $4.6-million cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).
JFF received this award from EDA to manage a “community of practice” (CoP) that will provide program support to organizations around the nation that are receiving EDA grants under the $500-million Good Jobs Challenge (GJC) funded through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. One of six main ARP programs, the GJC is focused on the current need for equitable recovery from the economic shock of the pandemic years by making transformative investments in innovation in locally led workforce-training systems.
Through partnerships with organized labor, community colleges, and other stakeholders, GJC grantees will increase the supply of trained workers who are ready to be matched to existing, high-quality job openings in their communities. GJC awards were made to 32 organizations (domiciled in 31 states and one U.S. territory), and the awardee set addresses job openings across 15 essential industries.
GJC grantees are charged with serving the needs of a broad and diverse range of individual job seekers, including those from historically underserved populations in both urban and rural areas. Grantees will focus on providing training and placement services related to positions that pay well and that offer both job security and career mobility.
CoPs are intended to foster collaboration among program grantees, to share best practices among them, to provide technical assistance, and to extend the grantees’ professional networks by providing access to SMEs. This is where I come in. My role on the JFF CoP team is to offer GJC grantees (regardless of their organizational type) advice and technical assistance related to their participation in state and regional economic-development initiatives.
A few of the GJC grantees are themselves regional economic-development organizations and may not need much or any assistance from me. However, a significant number of grantees are workforce agencies or municipal offices that may previously have received funding from agencies other than EDA and may know little about the theory and practice of economic development. I am hoping that I can serve especially as a resource to this kind of grantee.
If you are connected with a GJC grantee, please help us ensure they know about the support they can receive from the GJC CoP managed by JFF. And if you’re aware of best practices that should be disseminated through this CoP, please also feel free to get in touch with me.