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August 19, 2016

Earlier this year, the San Diego Workforce Partnership procured service providers for San Diego County’s WIOA out-of-school (OSY) youth programs. These programs help serve young adults ages 16–24 in San Diego County who are not working or in school. Funding was awarded to eight nonprofits and educational institutions throughout the region: Able Disabled Advocacy, Inc., Access, Inc., Comprehensive Training Systems, Interfaith Community Services, International Rescue Committee, San Diego Continuing Education, Second Chance, and YMCA of San Diego County.

SDWP continues to fund foster care youth programs for in-school and OSY youth through Access, Inc. and South Bay Community Services through a collaboration with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services. A pilot project for OSY youth interested in the life sciences field is administered through BIOCOM Institute in partnership with San Diego Miramar College.

Coordinated by SDWP Lead Program Specialist Amanda Cheyney, SDWP’s WIOA youth programs team designed a new training series intended to establish a strong relationship between SDWP and the providers and set the programs up for success. Creating this foundation became especially important as WIOA called for more emphasis on reconnecting opportunity (not working or in school) youth — over 53,000 of whom live in San Diego County. The 7-week onboarding took place June through August 2016 with 50 attendees at 14 sessions totaling 56 hours of training.

“We purposely designed these trainings to appeal to the adult learner,” says Cheyney. “Using human centered design principles, we integrated team building exercises, hands-on activities and opportunities to share effective youth program practices with the hopes of this experience being much more than hearing rules and regulations all day.”

SDWP involved WIOA-eligible youth in designing workshops, facilitating discussions and participating in some of the sessions to provide their feedback from a youth perspective, which was well received by the providers. “I really enjoyed and appreciated the fact that actual youth participants were present during the youth provider training,” said one provider. “Personally, it gave me another perspective to approach tasks such as outreach and youth engagement.”

Topics were chosen based on staff experience, youth input, effective practices in WIOA implementation, recommendations from SDWP’s Youth Council and feedback from community conversations and customer satisfaction surveys conducted over the past year. Technical sessions enlisted the help of every SDWP support team with sessions ran by the finance, IT and communications departments. Program sessions focused on core WIOA tenants as well as outreach and recruitment, labor market information, project-based learning, financial literacy, mental health services and more. The team also felt it was important to connect providers with other resources serving similar populations. Guest speakers from 11 organizations, including 211 San Diego, San Diego County Probation, County of San Diego Health and Human Services and the San Diego Housing Commission facilitated discussions about integrating services to better serve youth.

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