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June 10, 2015

Goodwill Industries of San Diego County has been improving employability in the region for 85 years. The organization employs over 1,440 people in its retail stores/operations, transportation, donation centers, document shredding, mission services and corporate offices alone. Add in the 4,000 plus individuals getting jobs through Goodwill employment centers and programs each year and there is no doubt about the organization’s impact on workforce development in San Diego.

Goodwill is a self-sustaining organization—relying on its retail stores for funding rather than traditional fundraising. But its stores, although the most recognized part of Goodwill’s work, are only one piece of the services the organization provides. They serve many populations with barriers to employment including individuals with disabilities, veterans, young adults and job seekers re-entering the workforce by creating customized programs for each group’s challenges. Focus lies in meeting participants at any stage of personal development and cultivating skills to move them to the next level. This includes progressive programs that develop social and job skills then ease individuals into work environments. The result is a continuum of services that meets people wherever they start their journey and moves them through to a place of independence. 

Forty-three percent of Goodwill employees have some type of disability and 12% experience another type of barrier, creating a corporate environment that’s unique to business. “We consider ourselves a mission-integrated organization,” says Toni Giffin, Vice President of Mission and Support Services at Goodwill. “What we all really love about working here is the diversity of the people that work together, each of us have unique abilities that contribute to achieving our mission.” 

With a purpose simply and powerfully noted as “getting people jobs,” Goodwill’s work aligns closely with the mission pursued by SDWP. These closely aligned goals have naturally led to strong representation from Goodwill on SDWP boards and committees. The representatives offer innovative insight on best practices for workforce development for San Diego. Additionally, Goodwill and SDWP partnered on a grant to increase job placement for individuals with disabilities—the special population Goodwill’s work has focused on most. The organization is also a valued CONNECT2Careers employer year after year.

Goodwill has always emphasized collaboration and adaptability. Their services operate with fluidity—adapting with changes in the economy and the individual needs within the community. Under the mission-driven leadership of CEO Mike Rowan, a thirty-one year Goodwill veteran, the organization is constantly reevaluating what’s being done, what needs to be done and how Goodwill fits into that need.

For more information on Goodwill Industries San Diego, visit


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