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Talking Transitional Work

A FrameWorks Communications Toolkit

This toolkit offers a collection of key documents from the FrameWorks Institute's research on how Minnesotans view transitional jobs programs, based on research conducted in that state in late 2004 and early 2005.


Welcome to Talking Transitional Work – a compendium of research on how Minnesotans think about transitional jobs programs, the problems they address and the constituencies they benefit. This work was conducted for Lifetrack Resources, one of the largest private nonprofit employment service providers in the state of Minnesota, and supported by a grant from the Joyce Foundation. Each year, Lifetrack Resources provides employment, early childhood, and rehabilitation therapy services, helping 15,000 people in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area develop their strengths for independence and self sufficiency. Based on new communications research, the FrameWorks Institute offers an array of application materials to help service providers and advocates communicate the vision and the value of transitional work programs.

This toolkit offers a collection of key documents from the FrameWorks Institute’s research on how Minnesotans view transitional jobs programs, based on research conducted in that state in late 2004 and early 2005 for Lifetrack Resources, and supported by a grant from the Joyce Foundation. As a result of this research, the FrameWorks Institute also offers a series of communications recommendations for engaging the public and a wide array of exemplary materials that incorporate and model the communications findings. These materials are designed to provide those who communicate about transitional jobs with a useful “rough draft” from which they can refine their own specific materials.

The goal of this work is not to supplant or substitute popular messages for needed remedies and proven policies but rather to translate those policies that service providers, advocates and policy experts believe will improve outcomes for people who face serious barriers to employment. Its ultimate destination is the wide array of groups and individuals who wish to elevate the importance of transitional jobs programs with community stakeholders, voters and policymakers. To that end, this toolkit includes not only the foundational research on public attitudes but also applications materials that model the translation process necessary to engage the public in solutions. By identifying specific practices that research suggests would advance public understanding as well as those that are likely to impede it, the applications section of this toolkit is intended to help experts and advocates advance the public dialogue.

The research and materials included reflect the perspective of strategic frame analysis, a multi-disciplinary multi-method approach to communications about social issues pioneered by the FrameWorks Institute and its research partners. Put simply, the way the news is “framed” on many issues sets up habits of thought and expectation that, over time, are so powerful that they serve to configure new information to conform to this dominant frame. When policy experts, community leaders, service organizations and advocacy groups communicate to their constituencies and potential supporters, they have options to repeat or break these dominant frames of discourse. Understanding which frames serve to advance which policy options with which groups becomes central to any movement’s strategy. The literature of social movements suggests that the prudent choice of frames, and the ability to effectively contest the opposition’s frames, lie at the heart of successful policy advocacy. A more extensive description of strategic frame analysis is available at


A FrameWorks Message Memo offers insights across the research and makes specific recommendations about communications “do’s” and “don’ts”.


The Applications section includes model op/eds and responses to typical interview questions – all incorporating the FrameWorks message suggestions. Of special interest is a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in which common answers are subjected to framing analysis and better answers suggested, all with reference to the research results. To keep the learning going, a section on Resources offers more about framing.


Included in this toolkit are analyses of all research conducted in Minnesota; we strongly urge those who would reshape public opinion to read these documents carefully. Of interest as well is the wide array of additional research conducted by the FrameWorks research team on such related issues as work, government and race; this work is regularly posted to the FrameWorks website.