MAP Reflections: Reskilling workers with Jaylen Hackett

MAP Fellowship | Blog | 3 mins.
Written By: Kelsey Thompson | Posted On: 02/09/2022

As the culmination of the 2021 MAP Fellowship approaches, we’re sharing perspectives from the cohort about their experiences and progress. In this piece, we hear from MAP Fellow Jaylen Hackett about his site visit with MAP Mentor, Dr. Angela Jackson. The site visit, a core component of the MAP Fellowship program, provides funds for Fellows and Mentors to travel to a location where they can work together in person on their challenge. While many site visits take place at the Mentor’s place of work, Jaylen and Angela took their site visit on the road to Miami, diving deeper into their research and gaining insights for their workforce development challenge.

Before coming back to the Harvard Kennedy School to finish my Master’s in Public Policy, I had the opportunity to think of creative ways to transform workforce development in New York City. Through the Future of Work challenge with my MAP Mentor, Dr. Angela Jackson, Managing Partner at New Profit, we are redefining workforce development and using it as a tool for economic mobility. More specifically, we’re researching pathways for reskilling workers into more high quality, high wage positions.

With the goal of sparking national change, we sought to show promise through an initial pilot that we could then scale and expand across the country. We chose to start our work in Florida, a state with a diverse political climate; more specifically, Miami, because of Dr. Jackson and my connections and the current innovation of the area. Since New Profit is based in Boston, and I am as well for school, we were able to use our MAP Fellowship site visit for these out of town meetings. The visit was set for December 2nd-3rd. I arrived the first night and explored the city–coincidentally, it was the same weekend as Art Basel. As much as I could have explored the festival all evening, I could not stay out long since Friday was packed with meetings across the city.

It started with a breakfast with partners from Google.org and the Knight Foundation. They provided insights on the landscape of innovation and investments in the area, like tech entrepreneurship programming for the universities.They also collaborated on our vision of what redefining workforce development could mean for Miami. After those conversations, Dr. Jackson and I processed what we had learned together before meeting with other partners looking to improve pathways to upward economic mobility. One leader being the model Karlie Kloss who runs a coding boot camp for young girls, but is looking to find ways to expand the impact of tech on economic mobility. The last meeting of the day was with the Director of Equity and Inclusion for Miami Dade County. This was very insightful in understanding all the current work the city is doing to support the economic mobility of its citizens through its small business investments and affordable housing initiatives.

The MAP Fellowship site visit wasn’t just an opportunity to deepen my relationship with my mentor Dr. Jackson, but an impactful time to further our project together. The ability to meet players driving change; more deeply understand the area we are looking to support; and further the relationships established was invaluable. I am incredibly grateful to MFF and Dr. Jackson for making it possible. Completing the site visit early in the Fellowship allowed me to set a framework for tackling the MAP challenge early on. The ability to change lives through creating careers that allow individuals to build wealth, is one I don’t take lightly. Through this fellowship, I am in the position to make an impact. From the site visit, I learned that there are many individuals and organizations willing to work with me to make that change too and I am thankful for the opportunity.