Thank you for your interest in the Joyce Foundation’s Shifting Gears Initiative. The foundation-funded phase of the initiative ended on December 31, 2011, but Shifting Gears states are continuing their work to build pathways to postsecondary credentials for lower-skilled adults at the state level. For more information on the initiative, please see our publications (lower on this page) and individual State Progress pages.
Jobs requiring some postsecondary education are expected to grow faster than average during the next decade, yet too many workers lack the skills and credentials essential for these twenty-first century jobs. Addressing this mismatch is becoming an economic imperative for workers, employers, and the country as a whole.
The Joyce Foundation launched the Shifting Gears initiative in 2006 to help six Midwest states address this problem. These states ― Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin ― are re-engineering adult education, workforce development and postsecondary education policies to support economic growth and expand job opportunities for low-skilled workers in the Midwest.
Because Shifting Gears focuses on state-led systemic change, this website is directed toward state policymakers and others across the country seeking to transform state education and training policies to increase economic opportunity for low-skilled adults.
- Check out the latest (and final) E-Newsletter from Shifting Gears!
- Shifting Gears states and partners wrapped up the initiative with a full two days of events, including an awards celebration and a discussion forum with federal agency staff on how lessons learned from Shifting Gears can benefit federal policy. Details on the forum will be included in the February 2012 E-Newsletter!
- CLASP and Shifting Gears states Wisconsin and Minnesota will be presenting "Lessons Learned from Shifting Gears: Adult Education State Policy Change for Postsecondary Success" at the National College Transition Network Conference on November 14. View the presentation.
- Minnesota has released a new video to share student success stories from FastTRAC. View the video, Minnesota FastTRAC: Opening Career Pathways.
- Minnesota has launched a new web site for their Shifting Gears initiative, FastTRAC. The new site provides information for current FastTRAC grantees and can help future students find a FastTRAC program that meets their educational needs. Check out the new website!
- Shifting Gears states and management partners convened in Minneapolis, MN for the bi-annual cross-site meeting in June 2011. The theme of the spring meeting was "Driving It Home: From State Policy to Institutional Practice". View meeting materials.
- Jennifer Foster, State Director of Adult Education in Illinois, presented on Shifting Gears Illinois during a Hill briefing hosted by the National Coalition for Literacy. View photos and listen to audio from the event.
- Read testimonials from students and program administrators about the success of Shifting Gears programs in all five states.
Shifting Gears Publications
Statewide Data as a Lever for Systems Change: Experiences and Lessons from Shifting Gears
Derek Price and Brandon Roberts. (September 2010)
As part of their work to make state education and skills development systems work better for low-skilled adults, states in the Shifting Gears initiative are using data to better understand and document low-skilled adult education and skills-development issues, and to help build awareness and support for improved public policies as well as institutional and systems change. This paper describes how each of the Shifting Gears states are using data to foster improvements in policy and practices and highlights the “lessons learned” from the work that has been done to date.
Shifting Gears: State Innovation to Advance Workers and the Economy in the Midwest
Julie Strawn. CLASP. (July 2010)
Our country's shift from an industrial-based economy to a knowledge-based one requires more and more workers to have at least some postsecondary education beyond high school to obtain stable employment and a family-supporting job. Currently, many Americans lack the skills and credentials to compete for these skilled jobs and know they need to pursue postsecondary education. This is especially pronounced in the Midwest, where local economies have undergone wrenching transitions that have left lower-skilled workers behind. Through Shifting Gears, The Joyce Foundation is supporting the work of five Midwest states that are developing and scaling up innovative programs in adult education, workforce development, and postsecondary education to increase the number of low-skilled workers with a postsecondary credential. In this report, read about how Shifting Gears states (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) are supporting innovative educational models and addressing barriers to completion for lower-skilled adults. The report also includes program details and outcomes from local Shifting Gears pilot sites in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Using State Data to Promote Continuous Improvement of Workforce Programs: Guidance for States Preparing Applications to the U.S. DOL Workforce Data Quality Initiative
Davis Jenkins and Tim Harmon. (July 2010)
This new report from Shifting Gears partners, Davis Jenkins and Tim Harmon, is a guide for states that are submitting proposals to the Department of Labor Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grant program. It is designed to provide guidance to states preparing applications to WDQI so they can build provisions into their proposals that not only strengthen workforce longitudinal data systems, but use the data collected to improve outcomes for state residents and employers alike.
Educating Adult Workers: The Shifting Gears Approach to Systems Change
Brandon Roberts and Derek Price. (December 2009)
This initiative-sponsored report describes how Shifting Gears is supporting and guiding state policy systems change through the use of proactive coaching, evaluative feedback, and tools such as a structured policy agenda and action plan, and logic model.