ReWork the Bay - Improving Job Quality for Frontline Workforce Providers


ReWork the Bay envisions an equitable Bay Area where everyone has access to quality, empowered jobs that allow them to benefit from and shape the region’s growing economy. We believe it should be possible for everyone to live full lives with security, dignity and agency in our work, home, and communities.

Our mission is to increase the number of people in the Bay Area who have quality, empowered employment. Quality, empowered employment offers the pay and benefits necessary for people to thrive in the Bay Area and have a meaningful say in their work and working conditions.

With this project, Rework the Bay has a unique opportunity to advance these goals for the entire state of California by deepening our partnership with orgs across the state.

Improving Job Quality for Frontline Workforce Providers  

This project seeks to advance the workforce development field’s understanding of client-facing workforce providers’ needs related to job quality and professional development and identify and share practical strategies to better address those needs. This opportunity to collectively re-imagine job quality seeks to ensure that frontline workers have the resources, capacities, supports, infrastructure, and relationships they need to truly thrive in their field. As a result, the disproportionately large number of people of color in those roles will feel healthy, supported, and empowered, which in turn can boost job seeker outcomes.

A key component of this statewide job quality project is the use of worker-led participatory research, a practice in which client-facing workers will be selected and upskilled to act as researchers. These “Worker-Researchers” will identify actionable solutions to improve job quality within their organizations, and package these findings to inform values-aligned funders about how to best support a long-term vision for job quality. This participatory research will be supplemented by technical assistance/capacity building services to the workforce organizations who employ the Worker-Researchers and a learning-focused evaluation that identifies clear learning questions, documents the process, and captures and disseminates key learnings. Together, if selected, you will help improve the quality of jobs in the field of workforce development.


Client-facing staff in workforce development organizations (including nonprofits, American Job Centers, and community colleges) have difficult jobs. They are often interacting with job seekers at a moment when multiple systems have failed them and are asked to assist those job seekers in overcoming challenges across both personal and professional life. Client-facing staff require creativity and resilience to do their important work, and this work takes its toll.

Compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma are common among workforce providers, yet due to sector norms and funding constraints, workforce organizations often lack the resources to ensure client-facing workers have the support they need to maintain their mental and physical health. This not only impacts the wellbeing of the staff--it can prevent them from achieving their full potential in assisting job seekers in attaining economic mobility.

Viewed through a racial justice lens, this systemic problem takes on even greater urgency. People of color in general, and Black workers specifically, are disproportionately represented in client-facing roles at workforce organizations. In addition, hiring people with lived experience is a common strategy for improving cultural responsiveness of services, which means these frontline workers frequently bring experience with incarceration, addiction, forced migration, mental health challenges, and other traumatic life events.

These factors increase the likelihood that the stressors of providing direct services may contribute to health challenges for these workers. In addition, immigration status, a criminal record, and hiring discrimination may prevent those same workers from feeling empowered to seek support from their current employer in the form of improved working conditions, pay or benefits, or even leaving their current organization in search of one offering improved job quality.

This dynamic creates a paradox in the workforce system: people employed to assist others in attaining economic mobility are themselves typically unable to access that same economic mobility in their line of work.

Project Goals and Objectives 

If successful, this project will:

  • Promote job quality for client-facing staff of workforce development nonprofit organizations and public agencies.

  • Create better outcomes for job seekers because those serving them are healthy, supported, and empowered.

This will be accomplished by: 

  • Engaging workers, job quality practitioners and other stakeholders to re-imagine what job quality looks like for their organizational roles and developing pilot program ideas that meet client-facing staff desires.

  • Participatory Research, in which client-facing staff are involved in both the analysis of the problem and development of solutions

  • Translating lessons learned from pilots into next steps for broader, systems-level policy and/or practice change.


ReWork the Bay has selected three California regions for this project: the North San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties), Fresno County, and Los Angeles County. Three workforce development organizations (public or non-profit) from each region will be selected to participate in this project via a competitive RFP process. Each participating organization in this cohort will receive $60,000 funding over two years and capacity building assistance tailored to meet them where they are related to job quality. In addition to receiving the financial support and capacity building assistance, you will be positioning yourselves as job quality champions in the workforce field.

Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Path Group will recruit and train two client-facing Worker-Researchers of color from each organization will be recruited and trained to conduct participatory research at their organizations to better understand client-facing workers’ needs and desires related to job quality. The participatory research component will include stipends provided to the Worker-Researchers, as well as an in-person design retreat.

Drawing on the findings of the participatory research, pilot project ideas for strategies to improve the quality of client-facing roles may be developed and presented to aligned funders in partnership with the participating organizations and workers. The findings of the project will also be shared via a publicly disseminated report and one or more briefing events aimed at workforce organizations and funders.

ReWork the Bay is seeking three organizations from each of the three regions (nine total) to participate in:

1.Participatory research peer-facilitation: 

Two frontline staff of color will be selected from each organization to participate in a two-day collaborative design retreat for 18 frontline workforce development staff from across California that results in: 1) clear recommendations for job quality improvement strategies; and 2) professional development opportunities including learning about different aspects of job quality and approaches to job quality improvement and peer networking/relationship building. Additional training and professional development will be provided to the selected frontline staff during the course of the grant.

2.Capacity building assistance: 

Your current state of capacity building related to job quality for client-facing workers will be assessed and supported.

Have questions? We are offering a Q&A information zoom session that will be held on January 17th, 2023. 1-2pm (pst)

Register in advance for this meeting: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Required Applicant Attributes

  • A workforce development nonprofit or public agency* that provides direct support (training, job search assistance, education, etc) to jobseekers facing barriers to employment. *for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply

  • Serves people living in one of the three priority regions (North San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno County, LA County)

  • Has at least two client-facing staff members

  • Demonstrated commitment to job quality and racial equity

Expected Organizational Commitment

Workforce organizations that are selected for this project will commit to receiving capacity building and technical assistance services to improve their understanding of job quality opportunities that exist in their organization. They will also commit to providing two Worker-Researchers to participate in the participatory research component.

At minimum, Worker-Researchers will be expected to participate in one design retreat (two to three days total), and approximately 5-10 hours per month for the duration of the project, which can vary based on project milestones and Worker-Researcher capacity.

Shared Vision and Principles 

All selected workforce organizations must commit to the following shared principles: We believe that…

  • Harnessing the expertise of client-facing workers can lead to better solutions than a process that does not involve their voice

  • Worker-Researchers can improve the systems and programs they interact with on a daily basis by drawing on their lived experiences to inform training program design and make workplaces more inclusive

  • Improving the job quality for our client-facing workers can improve the quality of service we provide to our clients

What we expect from you…

  • Commitment to being vulnerable and honest as we explore topics on job quality

  • An understanding that this will be a learning journey for all partners involved - there may be pivots along the way

  • Commitment to worker-led conversations on job quality

  • Participation from leadership in periodic technical assistance activities (e.g., 1-1 coaching calls, group learning sessions)

  • Support for the 2 Worker Researchers selected from your organization (e.g., adjusting their workload to account for the added responsibilities of this project)

  • Contribution of ideas to support the production of a short brief summarizing the process, lessons learned, unintended consequences, and recommendations.

  • Commitment to fully participate in this 2-year opportunity

What you can expect from us…

  • Transparency around process and learnings

  • Documentation and dissemination of key project learnings to statewide and national audiences to deepen the impact of this project

  • Support and upskilling for 2 client-facing workers we select from your organization to act as Worker-Researchers

  • Facilitation of learning activities and technical assistance for the cohort of workforce providers

Key Dates

Q&A information zoom session will be hosted January 17, 2023. 1-2pm (pst). Email [email protected] for the info session zoom link

Deadline Date: February 7, 2023 at 5:00 PM PST

Decisions Announced: 3/17/2023

Project start date: 5/17/2023

Project end date: 05/17/2025


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For questions about how to submit your proposal, please refer to JustFund's Help Center or contact [email protected].

JustFund utilizes a Common Proposal with four narrative questions 

  • Proposal Summary (Max 140 characters): Think of this like a tweet. Please tell us about the mission of this proposal in a couple of sentences.
  • Proposal Description (Recommended 2500 - 3500 characters): Tell us about your proposal.
  • Team Description (Recommended 1250 - 2500 characters): Tell us about who comprises the team.
  • Financial Need (Recommended 1250 - 2500 characters): Please describe what you will use the funding for.

Supplemental Questions

  • Please share how you envision this project benefiting your organization; what does success look like to you?
  • What comes to mind when you think of job quality?
  • Are you currently discussing job quality within your organization, or will this be a new concept for you to engage? If you are, please share some information about your work in this area.

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