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Jenny Taylor, 2017 Learning Academy participant

Jenny Taylor, Vice President of Career Services for Goodwill of North Georgia, is a sought-after public speaker on the topics of successful large-scale public/private partnerships, employer engagement, and case management for people with significant barriers to employment. She leads evidence-based programs with outcomes in the top 10% of the nation, and manages a department of more than 160 staff, serving more than 50,000 people annually including more than 3,000 people in intensive services programs with significant barriers to employment.

Her agency has the first 50-50 contract in Georgia for SNAP E&T, and has a second contract to act as an intermediary and technical assistance provider to the other five Goodwill agencies serving Georgia in order to meet the State’s goals for a three year Statewide expansion of the program. She chose to participate in the Learning Academy to gain as much knowledge and skill related to the program to support and achieve the goals to exponentially expand SNAP E&T in Georgia.

Learn more about Jenny's experience in the Learning Academy:

Describe your experience in the Learning Academy.  What were your biggest takeaways? What sessions or experiences impacted you the most?

The Learning Academy had a great deal of positive impact for me. I was able to learn A LOT from my peers about how they had overcome challenges and tried innovative new ideas for the program in their States. I learned what not to do. I learned about the variety and flexibility the program has allowed in implementation. I got policy information direct from the source of national office staff. It affirmed all of the great information already provided by the USDA FNS senior program analyst for my region: Southeast. I loved hearing about the other Academy participants' projects AND it was a great venue to learn that we were actually right on track and ahead in some cases in our implementation. I had gone in feeling very much a newbie and not confident we were making big enough impact in our progress, but felt really good about the solid work we were doing and planning after participating.

In your specific role, how did the Learning Academy support you in building your skills and having an impact on SNAP E&T?

In my role leading the first 50-50 third party contract in our State, and acting as the first intermediary and T.A. provider to our sister non-profit agencies, the Learning Academy supported me by giving me the knowledge of the program’s many nuances, ideas for creative ways to execute on our planning from peer-learning, and the confidence I needed to act boldly to advocate for and implement the new systems that are allowing our State to expand SNAP E&T.

Tell us about your Learning Academy project. How did it advance your learning? How does it help advance SNAP E&T?

Our initial goal was an ambitious one: to help every veteran household receiving SNAP in the State of Georgia, who is motivated to work, rejoin the workforce and regain self-sufficiency. To achieve this goal, we proposed a three-step, four-year program to create a sustainable Statewide system to provide workforce development training and support to lead to employment and stabilizing incomes for these veteran households.

To fit the larger scale project into the 9-month scope of the SNAP E&T Academy, I developed and presented two deliverables:

  1. A toolkit on approaching philanthropy community/foundations to obtain new revenue through leveraging the 50% reimbursement, including a needs analysis questionnaire and sample listening tour template.
  2. A timeline and project checklist for implementation of a multi-phase four year project to plan, launch, and deliver programming and systems to help every veteran household receiving SNAP in Georgia who wants to work to go to work and improve their self-sufficiency.

The project advanced my learning by giving me access to both SJI and FNS to assist in the development of these specific tools as part of the real project going on in our State.

It helped advance SNAP E&T in several ways: We already have a new very large investment from a major foundation to implement the project, which also provides a challenge grant for other philanthropic organizations, and we have the State’s permission to begin a pilot to expand from voluntary ABAWD-only to the full SNAP population, including participation in our High Demand Career Initiative for Healthcare in Metro Atlanta – a large employer-driven, sector-based public/private partnership for workforce development that SNAP E&T is now a part of through our pilot to serve non-ABAWDs and our 50-50 contract.

What advice would you give to future Learning Academy participants? Is there anything you know now about preparing for the Academy that you wish you would have known before you started?

Make connections with your peers, get their contact information early. Talk to everyone present at the Academy – there is great stuff to learn from everyone.

I felt very prepared before I started, so I wouldn’t change anything. Make sure you are connected to your regional program analyst – that communication and alignment is absolutely essential to implementing any of the ideas and skills you obtain at the Academy.

What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to continue your SNAP E&T work?

After speaking as an employer and provider to the Southeast Regional gathering of State administrators for DOL, HHS, and FNS programs about what we have done so far, we have been invited by multiple sister Goodwill agencies in other States to assist them with their proposals and implementation, as well as other smaller non-profit organizations in our region who have learned about the success rates for our programs so far (83% placement rates so far for our program participants) who would like guidance and support from a peer.