Building Career Pathways for Adult Learners: An Evaluation of Progress in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin After Eight Years of Shifting Gears

  • Description

The Joyce Foundation's Shifting Gears initiative was launched in 2007 as a state policy change effort in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The goal was to strengthen adult basic education, workforce, and community and technical college systems so that more low-skilled workers gain the education, skills and credentials needed to advance and succeed in our changing economy. The Joyce Foundation extended Shifting Gears funding from 2012 -- 2014 (referred to as SG 3.0) in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. This report reached five primary findings:

  • Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin doubled the total number of their bridge programs from 79 to 196 between SG 2.0 to SG 3.0.
  • Each state effectively institutionalized its adult education bridge program as an ongoing option to address the educational and skill needs of low-skilled adult learners.
  • In two of the three states (Minnesota and Wisconsin), important policy changes expanded financial resources available for adult education bridges, and created the foundation for further advancing adult education bridges.
  • Scale was not achieved during this period in terms of serving many or most of the low-skilled adults who might benefit from bridge programs.
  • The work of Shifting Gears positively influenced the national discourse on workforce development.