Better Careers Design Group

Co-designing outcomes-driven solutions for California jobseekers

What is the Better Careers Design Group?

The Better Careers Design Group will collaborate to design solutions for systemic workforce challenges and advance the equity of economic outcomes in California. The 18-month curriculum will educate and empower innovators across sectors of the California workforce system. Through this group, government agencies and grantees of the Irvine Better Careers initiative will come together to study human-centered and outcomes-oriented design and plan concrete changes that put these design principles into practice. 

Over eighteen months, the Design Group will partner with and engage the people and communities they serve to investigate problems that exist within their local workforce system. During this journey, they will develop and refine implementation plans that respond to barriers and further the outcome goals of the Better Careers initiative:

  • Help 25,000 low-income jobseekers secure employment that pays at least $18 per hour
  • Improve training opportunities that lead to quality jobs and advancement
  • Identify successful models of matching employers with middle-skilled workers
  • Build and grow a diversified pool of talented workers

How will the Better Careers Design Group collaborate?

The Design Group will follow an 18-month applied study. Through six full-day interactive workshops, supporting experiential activities, and one-on-one technical assistance from Third Sector, the group will learn an integrated, collaborative approach to generating ideas and establishing feedback loops around improving outcomes. Design Group members will refine their solutions based on input from other group members, colleagues, partner organizations, and residents. The result will be a plan to implement these systems-change solutions in their communities. Group members can expect to graduate with experience in human-centered design and outcomes orientation that can impact many aspects of their day-to-day work.

The Design Group is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation, which allows members to participate at no cost. Design Group members will be offered a small grant to compensate them for their time (up to $20,000 per organization) and will be reimbursed for all workshop travel and lodging expenses.

Who Should Apply?

Up to six Better Careers grantees and up to ten government agencies will be selected to be a part of the Design Group. Organizations may apply independently or as a cross-sector team composed of one or more government agencies and one or more Better Careers grantees. Preference will be given to grantees and agencies that operate within the same geography and have collaborative relationships. The Better Careers Design Group is intended to be as representative as possible of the California workforce development system, demonstrating diversity by populations served and career pathway options. 

Better Careers grantees and government agencies will be selected to become a part of the Design Group through a competitive application process. Applying organizations will be evaluated on their

  • Enthusiasm for innovation, 
  • Culture of inclusive decision making, 
  • Commitment to developing and making progress towards equity goals, and 
  • Ability to support the Irvine Better Career initiative goals

Applicants not selected for the Design Group may be invited to join the Virtual Learning Community, which will have access to resources and webinars related to the curriculum and the Design Group’s progress. Community-based organizations who are not grantees of the Better Careers initiative may also be considered for the Virtual Learning Community.

How Can Agencies and Organizations Apply?

The application will be available to view in late September. Please submit your email address or email Sheba Rivera at to be informed of application updates and to follow the progress of the Design Group.


  • September: Better Careers Design Group application is available to view
  • October: Informational webinar available and application period opens
  • November: Application period closes and interviews are held with selected applicants
  • December: Better Careers Design Group cohort is announced

The Better Careers Design Group is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.