Education & Economic Mobility

Program Mission

Closing income and race disparities in college and career success through equitable access to high-quality education.

Data continue to show that a post-secondary credential is the best way to ensure economic mobility, yet not enough young people earn them. Joyce is committed to evidence-based policies that help close race and income disparities in post-secondary attainment. To that end, we invest in local, state, and federal policies that aim to ensure historically underserved young people have effective and diverse K-12 teachers and principals; graduate high school with academic and career momentum; and attain affordable college credentials with economic value. In the short term, we will invest in research, policy development, and advocacy to help young people recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Response

The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shutter in early 2020. The move to remote/hybrid learning left schools, educators and families scrambling to build rich learning environments. School closures also forced policymakers to waive many K–12 policies. Joyce will seek opportunities to help students regain lost ground, and to help policymakers rebuild more equity-focused policies.


Effective Educators

Evidence is clear that teachers and principals are the main in-school driver of student success. Yet, young people of color and those from underserved communities often have inexperienced, unqualified, or ineffective educators. To ensure historically marginalized students have top-notch and diverse educators, the Foundation invests in research, policy development, advocacy, and technical assistance to: 1) use data to better align educator supply and demand; 2) diversify the educator pipeline; 3) build strong pathways from high school into teaching; and 4) spread innovative school staffing models that attract educators, boost retention, and improve student outcomes. Our investments focus on Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and national efforts.

College & Career Readiness

There is overwhelming evidence that a college degree significantly improves life outcomes. Yet not enough high school students—especially young people of color and those from underserved communities—are prepared to succeed in post-secondary. To help students get on the right path, the Foundation supports federal and state policies to: 1) align K-12, higher education, and workforce systems; 2) increase access and success in rigorous courses; and 3) increase access to high-quality work-based learning activities connected to careers with family-sustaining wages.

Post-secondary Success

A post-secondary degree remains the surest path to social and economic mobility. Yet colleges fail to enroll and graduate students of color and students from low-income households at the same rate as White and wealthier students.

This contributes to racial and socioeconomic disparities in education and career outcomes. To address these disparities, the Joyce Foundation supports federal and state policies that: 1) scale proven student support models to improve community college outcomes; 2) preserve access for students of color and rural students to affordable, high- quality public college options and labor markets that require college degrees; 3) seek racial and family income representativeness at selective public universities; and 4) narrow gaps in post-graduate financial outcomes for students of color and low-income students.

Recently in Education & Economic Mobility

Policy Watch

K-12 “toolbox”

School districts across Illinois have received a “toolbox” of recommendations for helping teachers and students rebound from lost learning after a year of interruptions during the COVID 19 pandemic.

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Program Staff