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Data for the American Dream


D4AD was established to support innovative efforts to help unemployed and underemployed workers and jobseekers improve their job prospects through access to online tools offering current, customizable information about work and training opportunities. Funding was provided by Schmidt Futures, Lumina Foundation, Walmart, and the Walton Family Foundation, and NCHEMS served as the implementation partner.

Challenges Approach Impacts


Focusing specifically on workers affected by structural racism and economic marginalization, the initiative was piloted in Colorado, Michigan, and New Jersey. D4AD partners gained valuable insights into how to develop timely and actionable resources that address the individual needs of workers and jobseekers.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly exacerbated the challenges by creating an unprecedented unemployment surge. It illuminated a range of longstanding structural problems affecting women; Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities; and people impacted by persistent low wages and poverty. While the crisis underscored the need for improved technology and online tools to support virtual work, education, and social support services, it also exposed inequities in access to technology and other resources people relied on to navigate the pandemic.


D4AD supported innovative efforts to expand access and use of education and career data in partnerships that crossed public and private, state and local agencies. At its core, D4AD was about learning how best to develop and implement agile, responsive, and equitable tools, services, and systems to improve our workforce development, education, and training systems.

The D4AD initiative not only resulted in new tools and resources for workers and jobseekers in Colorado, Michigan and New Jersey, it also provided valuable lessons to others who are seeking to build more agile, responsive, and equitable workforce development, education and training tools and programs that can better serve unemployed and underemployed workers, particularly those who are economically marginalized and facing structural racism. As a guide for future work, NCHEMS has turned those lessons into strategic approaches states and organizations can employ as they develop tools and resources that are more equitable, will have a greater impact for workers and jobseekers, and will serve as economic drivers for communities and states. The approaches are divided into three key areas of work: strategic planning, harnessing data and technology, and crafting effective communications.


D4AD initiative partners worked to create a clear theory of change that articulated who would benefit from new workforce tools, what the workers and jobseekers needed, what was the best way to provide tools and resources along with additional supports, and how to measure whether the tools were adding real value to workers’ and jobseekers’ lives. That work included:

  • Improving partners’ understanding of who the workers and jobseekers are that agencies and organizations are trying to reach.
  • Designing human-centered tools and information that are more accessible to the workers and jobseekers that could benefit most.
  • Being prepared and willing to change processes, perspectives, and tools using a model of “constant co-creation” with users.
  • Creating strategic communications to connect with these workers and jobseekers.
  • Developing strong partnerships within the community and among employers.
  • Garnering ongoing support from communities and policymakers.