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March 9, 2022

Windy (top right) and Deona of the Workforce Partnership spoke during one of the panels

The virtual P2E Summit: The Future of the P2E Grant Program took place on March 1, with contributions from the San Diego Workforce Partnership staff and participants. Much of the conversation was focused on the COVID-19 related changes of the grant and what grantees can anticipate for future work. We wanted to share a few of the topics that stood out.

Incarceration continues to have direct impact on the California economy 

The keynote, given in part by executive director of the California Workforce Development Board, Tim Rainey, touched on the effects of incarceration on our state and the intersectional impacts of justice involvement.

“So the damage of mass incarceration [is this]: slightly more than 36% of California’s residents are at or near the poverty level. That’s more than a third of our population. According to a Stanford report for Ending Poverty in California (EPIC), the justice system is arguably the premiere poverty-generating and disparity-generating institution.”

We explored this intersectionality in our article. Read the full piece to learn more—The nexus of systemic racism, criminal justice and economic opportunity.

Rehabilitation is a multifactor process

Dr. Joseph Piazza is the state supervisor of Career and Technical Education Programs with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. On the Corrections Partnership Taskforce Work panel, he spoke on the goals of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for inmate students. 

“Our first goal in CTE is to help inmates change their thinking. Often times, people come into the institutions with a self esteem that may be low, their self-concept in terms of their authority over their own lives, their ability to persevere  and to accomplish goals, may be nonexistent. And their understanding, of course, about other people comes from their thinking about themselves.” 

With continual pandemic-related disruption, it’s important to remember the fundamentals  

The Worforce Partnership’s senior manager of programs, Kristen Walker, spoke on the Pivoting In Response To COVID panel and provided some insight on the importance of being flexible and open to change.  

“In the beginning it was an acceptance of learning in real time and accepting that we don’t have a perfect plan, and we’re all learning together.”  

She also stressed the importance of partnerships and trust to make impactful change. 

“We focused on the community we are trying to serve and reached out to partners. We went back to the basics of workforce development; real relationships based on trust are what drive change. We don’t know what’s going to come next, but we’re working on it together.” 

The corrections and workforce systems must align for California resident success  

During the session on the Future Of The Prison To Employment Grant Initiative, chief deputy director of the California Workforce Development Board, Curtis Notsinneh, talked about the importance of building a connected system that supports all Californians. While the two systems have made some progress in integrating, more must be done.  

“Overall, we need to do more to connect the training, educating and experience from the inside to the labor demand on the outside. There’s a willingness to do so, and I think that’s the most important thing.”

This work impacts real people’s lives 

Several sessions addressed the importance of this work, but that importance was emphasized when two speakers shared their lived experiences with attendees. Deona Dorsey, a program specialist at the Workforce Partnership, introduced speaker Windy Ortiz. Windy was a participant of our Reentry Works program and although she was initially nervous to share her story, she was able to tell attendees about completely turning her life around with hard work and support. Her story can be heard on YouTube. 

The recording of the event can be found on the California Workforce Development Board YouTube channel.  

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