Policy Priorities

CJC works to improve access to good jobs and workforce services, improve skill-building programs, eliminate systemic barriers to employment, and foster job creation that benefits the people who need a job the most.

Without transportation, everything else is out of reach. That’s why CJC leads the Transit Table, a coalition of advocacy organizations, providers, and other stakeholders working to reduce transportation barriers that affect vulnerable residents in Chicago and across Illinois.

  • Together with workforce professionals, government agencies, and other advocates, we’re working to eliminate driver’s license suspension as a burdensome penalty on low-income and disadvantaged Illinoisans, often for non-moving violations.

  • We’re participating in the City of Chicago’s Fines, Fees, and Access Collaborative, a city task force aimed at reducing the unfair burden of fines and fees on low-income Chicagoans.

  • We’re working with CTA, our members, and other advocates to reduce the costs and burdens of the Ventra fare system on area non-profits. Read the report here.

Through the Transit Table, we are working to advance our strategic goals of reducing systemic barriers to employment experienced by people of color and women, and ensuring a robust network of community-based service providers. For more info, contact Eric Halvorson

A job should be a ticket to family-sustaining wages and opportunities for personal and professional growth. We’re working to make sure that job seekers with low basic skills can access demand-driven Career Pathways that offer integrated education and training, provide supportive services, and may include paid work-based learning. This Career Pathways approach is supported by WIOA, the largest federal source of workforce development funding. We monitor state and local implementation activities related to WIOA and bring ideas for systems improvement that are based on the experience of direct service providers.

  • In partnership with Young Invincibles and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, we are offering a series of workshops on Apprenticeships across the state aimed at equipping community-based organizations to support equitable apprenticeship models in Illinois.

  • As members of the Illinois Apprenticeship Collaborative Steering Committee, we’re pushing for policy solutions that promote apprenticeship strategies for Illinois that are effective, ambitious, sustainable, and equitable.

  • We are partnering with Women Employed and the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition to increase the use of the Career Foundations curriculum in adult education and workforce programs.

  • We helped develop the statewide definition of “career pathways” in Illinois, in order to better align resources and ensure access.

  • See our work with the Pathways to Careers Network here.

  • Learn more about WIOA here.

Our work on Career Pathways supports our strategic goal to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training. For more info, contact Angela Morrison.

If someone is homeless and wants to find work, employment services are a natural fit. But our homeless services and workforce services don’t align well. We are working to ensure better employment outcomes for people served by Chicago’s homeless-response system.

  • With Heartland Alliance, Inspiration Corporation, and Center for Changing Lives, we co-lead the Employment Task Force of the Chicago Continuum of Care.

  • We advocate for both the workforce and homeless-response systems to collect better information about both the housing and employment status of the people that they provide services to.

  • We are working to create navigators for individuals in housing programs who need help getting workforce services.

  • We develop new tools and resources for frontline staff of the homeless response system to better work with their job seeking participants.

This advocacy supports two of our strategic goals: to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training, and to ensure a robust network of community-based service providers. For more info, contact Carrie Thomas

We can do a lot more to connect people to employment through the SNAP program. Recipients of food assistance through SNAP are more likely to have low skills and limited work experience. They don’t need work requirements that put their food assistance at risk, they need robust employment and training services.

  • We advocate to increase resources for SNAP E&T, and promote coordination between our human services and workforce development system to build a skills-based employment strategy for SNAP participants in Illinois.

  • We’re pushing to eliminate employment and training mandates in Illinois to ensure that all available resources are directed toward expanding and improving services for SNAP job seekers.

  • We advocate against work requirements that penalize SNAP recipients for market conditions they cannot control. Job seekers on SNAP don’t need their food security threatened to find a job, they need robust employment and training services that connect them to family-sustaining employment. We’re working to make this happen with Shriver, Heartland, Illinois Hunger Coalition and Greater Chicago Food Depository.

  • Check out our “Pathways Not Punishment” Policy Report on SNAP E&T

  • Use our Public Comment Template and Submission Instructions to oppose harmful federal proposed rule changes to the SNAP ABAWD Time Limit Waiver that would put hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans at risk of losing their benefits. Submit a comment by the April 2 deadline.

This area of our policy work supports two of our strategic goals: to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training; and to ensure a robust network of community-based service providers. For more info, contact Mari Castaldi.

We know there are not enough jobs in the places where people need them most. We believe that entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and worker-owned businesses hold unique opportunities for people who have trouble securing a stable job.

  • We support economic development strategies that prioritize hiring locally and from workforce training organizations, including social enterprises.

  • We support community benefits agreements that are enforceable by community members.

  • We participate in the Chicagoland Cooperative Economy Coalition with the goal of promoting worker-owned cooperatives as an employment strategy for marginalized job seekers.

  • We push to ensure that huge public investments in areas like infrastructure include set-asides for job training and workforce development for low-income communities of color.

  • We advance accountability in local economic development—accountability for quality jobs for local residents.

This area of our policy work supports two of our strategic goals: to promote the development of alternative business models that create opportunities for people living in poverty; and to reduce systemic barriers to employment experienced by people of color and women. For more info, contact Mari Castaldi.

We believe every job should be a good job. We regularly join coalitions, support policy change, and educate and engage the workforce development field on the following four issues that are foundational to employment opportunity:

  • Public budgets: Sustainable public resources are needed at the federal, state, and local level to ensure employment opportunity. Currently we work with the Responsible Budget Coalition, Illinois Partners for Human Service, and the Fair Tax campaign to secure progressive and sustainable revenue solutions for Illinois’s ongoing budget crisis.

  • Criminal justice: A criminal record of any kind follows individuals for too long and creates unnecessary barriers to employment. We support the work of partners like ROCCI and Safer Foundation to reduce these barriers.

  • Job quality: Not all jobs are created equal. We support efforts to improve the conditions of work—safety on the job, wages, benefits, and paid time off—to make sure that employment leads to economic stability. Entry-level workers, women, and people of color are the most vulnerable to harmful employment practices. We support the work of the Paid Leave Coalition, Raise the Floor Alliance, the Chicago Workers Collaborative, and other organizations that seek to improve public policies to support quality jobs.

  • Work supports: When a job pays only poverty wages, additional supports such as SNAP benefits, unemployment insurance, and TANF payments can help make a family’s budget work. We support programs that keep people out of poverty when employment can’t.

These areas of policy work support many of our strategic goals: to promote the development of alternative business models that create opportunities for people living in poverty; to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training; to reduce systemic barriers to employment experienced by people of color and women; and to ensure a robust network of community-based service providers. For more information, contact Mari Castaldi.