Better Careers Design Group

Co-designing outcomes-driven solutions for California jobseekers

The Better Careers Design Group will collaborate to design solutions for systemic workforce challenges and advance the equity of economic outcomes in California. Through this group, government agencies and grantees of The James Irvine Foundation's 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, Design Group members will partner with 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 under-resourced jobseekers secure jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage
  • 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

The Design Group will follow an 18-month applied study. Through six full-day interactive workshops, applied 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 collectively implement these 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 have been offered a small grant to compensate them for their time ($25,000 per organization) and will be reimbursed for all workshop travel and lodging expenses.

Design Group Members

Twenty organizations, both local government or quasi-government agencies and grantees from the Irvine Foundation Better Careers initiative, were selected to be a part of the Design Group. Two organizations, the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC) and Small Business Majority (SBM), were selected to advise all participants by attending Design Group workshops and joining the Advisory Committee. The remaining 18 organizations have been subdivided into four Local Teams.

Third Sector selected Design Group participants on the basis of their organization's:

  • Enthusiasm for innovation
  • Capacity to participate
  • Commitment to developing and making progress towards equity goals
  • Ability to support The James Irvine Foundation’s Better Careers initiative goals

Learning Community

The Design Group Learning Community includes a wider group of workforce innovators that meet virtually on a quarterly basis to share human-centered and outcomes-oriented approaches to improving local workforce systems.  While the Design Group focuses on four areas of California, agencies and organizations from other states are also invited to find inspiration and apply the process in their own local area. Learning Community members may also win the chance to attend two of the Design Group’s exclusive workshops! If you are interested in being considered to join the Design Group Learning Community, please sign up here

Materials from Completed Learning Community Sessions

  • Session 1 - The Challenge of Staying Connected: Diversity Plans and Remote Interviews That Bridge the Divide

Advisory Committee

It is critically important that the work of the four local teams is connected to state-level initiatives and vice versa. For this reason, representatives from California state-level agencies, funders and policy coalitions are coming together on the Design Group Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will meet on a quarterly basis to provide ongoing input into Design Group content and activities and facilitate select workshop or Learning Community sessions. Their guidance may address flexible funding streams (e.g. CalWORKs Expanded Subsidized Employment), new initiatives (e.g. outputs from the Future of Work Commission), or improved coordination in the workforce development space. Advisory Committee members include:

Better Careers Design Group Timeline

Sep. 18, 2019 - Dec. 18, 2019

Design Group application and selection process

Jan. 23-30, 2020

Local Team launch meetings

Feb. 26, 2020

First Design Group workshop

Apr. 16, 2020

First Learning Community session

May 5, 2020

Second Design Group workshop, Module 1

Jun. 4, 2020

Second Design Group workshop, Module 2

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