The mission of JOTF is to develop and advocate policies and programs to increase the skills, job opportunities, and incomes of low-skill, low-income workers and job seekers.
JOTF envisions a region and a state that offer educational and employment opportunities for all individuals to develop their abilities, find employment, and be economically self-reliant.
A healthy economy requires a commitment to developing the abilities and addressing the employment-related challenges of low wage workers and job seekers. Implementation should be built on the following values:
Respect for low wage individuals: through outreach and collaboration, understand their needs and strengthen their voice;
Understanding the workforce needs of employers: through communication and partnerships, be responsive to their workforce needs and help to develop pipelines to employment;
Diversity: exemplify and teach the benefits of diversity in the workplace;
Leadership and collaboration: communicate and collaborate with community organizations and agencies to achieve effective solutions;
Education: to increase community awareness of issues and potential solutions;
Research and analysis: to ensure accuracy and integrity of solutions;
Accountability: monitor public and private workforce-related agreements and actions; hold systems and parties accountable for results;
Advocacy: to empower the community and bring needed change.
Established in 1996, JOTF is an independent network of service providers, employers, and community members concerned about low-wage, low-skill employment, the insufficient numbers of jobs that pay family-supporting wages, and the impact of these issues on the economic development and revitalization of the Baltimore region. In 2000 JOTF incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with full-time staff.
Our first major achievement was the publication in May 1999 of Baltimore Area Jobs and Low-Skill Job Seekers: Assessing the Gaps. This report describes and quantifies the region's workforce and total job market, and identifies strengths, opportunities, and problems. The problems include large concentrations of unemployed and unskilled residents; lack of enough jobs that offer adequate income, benefits, and career opportunities for these residents; lack of accessible public transportation to major job centers located throughout the region; and a scarcity of qualified workers for higher skill jobs.
We seek to integrate workforce development with economic and community development, and to respond to the workforce needs of both employers and job seekers. We bring together various components of the workforce system - employers, workers, job seekers, educators, trainers, service providers, public administrators, and policymakers - to identify what works, what needs to be changed, and how to improve outcomes.
JOTF is supported by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Fund for Change, the Goldseker Foundation, the David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation, the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Open Society Institute - Baltimore, the Alvin and Fanny Blaustein Thalheimer Foundation, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and the Working Poor Families Project among other private donors.