This year, America Forward celebrates 10 years of collective advocacy work. As we celebrate this important milestone and lay the foundation for what the next 10 years hold, we are chronicling the impact that America Forward and our Coalition of 70 organizations have had using our practical experiences to shift federal policy to reward results, incentivize innovation, catalyze cross-sector partnerships, and advance equity. Here are the top 10 ways America Forward has shaped workforce development policy over the past decade and helped transform #Practice2Policy.
- In 2012, America Forward launched the America Forward Coalition Workforce Development Task Force to develop a comprehensive policy platform that outlines those features we believe are critical to better integrate the development of our economy with the preparation of our workforce.
- After aligning around a set of workforce development policy priorities, America Forward moved to advocacy and action to influence the inclusion of a Pay for Success pilot in the Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grant program. The WIF was created to cultivate and test innovative approaches to workforce training and encourage the replication of evidence-based practices in the workforce development field. With our advocacy, $20 Million was made available through the second round of WIF funding to pilot Pay for Success in the financing of workforce investment projects.
- America Forward was directly involved in developing, advocating for, and ensuring the ultimate passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014. This transformative and innovative piece of legislation made significant changes to our federal workforce and job training programs and was the first major update to the workforce development system since 1998.
- America Forward and the America Forward Coalition secured key provisions in WIOA, including authorizing Pay for Performance contracting; prioritizing and supporting career pathways; supporting the development of alternative, evidence-based programs that encourage youth to re-enter and complete secondary school, enroll in post-secondary education and advanced training and progress through a career pathway; promoting better coordination by aligning workforce development programs with economic development and education initiatives; utilizing prior learning assessments; prioritizing work-based learning experiences, such as internships, for youth; permitting funding of transitional jobs programs; and, continuing support for the U.S. Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program.
- Since passage of WIOA, America Forward has been at the forefront of educating Governors, state workforce leaders, and local workforce boards about the changes made by the law, and has presented at conferences on the changes in WIOA about how states and localities can effectively implement many of the evidence and innovation-focused changes.
- In 2016, America Forward partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond to host two events focused on WIOA implementation. In June of 2016, our standing room only event entitled Innovative Workforce Development Strategies for Out-of-School Youth focused on the changes made to the WIOA youth program and funding. Three months later in September, we hosted a two-day discussion that focused on WIOA state plan implementation. We hosted workforce leaders from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia along with representatives from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education and other workforce system leaders to learn about best practices and share information on innovations in state WIOA plans.
- Since 2008, America Forward has engaged with candidates on both sides of the aisle in each election cycle through meetings, town halls, site visits, white papers, and the publication of a Presidential briefing book. In 2016, America Forward published our Moving America Forward presidential briefing book, which included innovative, evidence-based workforce development policy ideas. We also used a variety of communications channels to highlight these ideas for consideration by the new incoming Administration.
- America Forward teamed up with one of its Coalition members, Third Sector Capital Partners, to support the implementation of WIOA Pay for Performance authorities and held a Congressional briefing in 2017 to update Members of Congress and their staff on the implementation efforts around these provisions and to identify potential areas for additional legislation or guidance to help ensure continued use of the new contracting opportunity.
- America Forward has led many briefings, webinars, and policy and advocacy training sessions to support our workforce development-focused Coalition and network members in building their capacity to engage in the policymaking process.
- Each year America Forward advocates for important workforce development priorities as part of the Federal budget and appropriations process. We support policies that ensure access to resources to support the important work of our Coalition members and that help states and localities develop and execute on the most effective interventions to meet the needs of individuals looking to access workforce and job training programs.
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