Adaptation, Innovation, Collaboration

Adaptation, Innovation, Collaboration. JFY’s continuing evolution

JFY’s continuing evolution

by Gary Kaplan

Just before the turn of the year, on December 27 to be exact, JFYNetWorks passed its 47th anniversary.

We attribute our vigorous longevity to our foundational practice of adaptation to changes in the social and economic environment. Our programs have evolved over the years from job readiness to competency-based literacy to biotech lab training to online standards-based college and career readiness.  All these program innovations have served our mission of enhancing economic opportunity and social mobility for low-income urban youth and young adults. Our strategy throughout has been to recognize changes in the economy and adjust our programs to new social conditions and labor market demands. Our goal has always been to establish a foundation for long-term career success in our mercurial skill-intensive economy.

In designing our programmatic innovations, we have always sought a point of leverage where our intervention could make a decisive difference and provide a scalable and sustainable model for expansion to large-scale impacts. Equity, cultural competence and inclusiveness are core organizational values intrinsic to our mission and embedded in our practice since our founding as Jobs For Youth in 1976.

Our ability to adapt, innovate and thrive these 47 years is due to several critical factors. We have enjoyed decades-long collaborations with our partner schools and colleges, employers, and professional associations. We have been supported financially by generous and faithful private funders, by client schools, colleges and districts, by the federal government, and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. And we are blessed with a skillful, nimble, creative staff backed by a wise and seasoned board.

We are now in the dawn of another major transformation with the advent of Artificial Intelligence. If the pundits are right, this technological mutation will be more sweeping than any of its predecessors. If they are even half right, AI will present challenges and opportunities that will call upon all the experience and creativity our staff can muster and our partners and funders can support. We are hopeful, even confident, that the collaboration of all our colleagues will carry us through this evolutionary cycle  and into the next, whatever it may be– and the one after that.

The gemstone for 47 years is amethyst. The stone has the power to amplify energy. We will no doubt find that property very useful.

As we enter our 48th year, we thank all our colleagues, friends and supporters  for helping JFY meet and surmount every challenge that  has confronted us. We look forward to a challenging, productive, and collaborative New Year.

Gary Kaplan is the executive director of JFYNetWorks. 

Other posts authored by Gary can be found here.

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