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December 12, 2023

Hero Hire

In an effort to enhance employment prospects and support the reentry of justice-involved individuals into the workforce, the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) awarded the San Diego Workforce Partnership $4.8 million for its innovative and successful Reentry Works services. This initiative will provide training, reskilling and upskilling, and supportive services to justice-involved individuals to improve employment opportunities and job mobility. “Our Reentry Works services is a pivotal step towards integrating justice-involved individuals back into society, and we are grateful for the California Workforce Development Board’s investment in our successful tried and tested approach,” said Tony Young, Interim CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “The San Diego Workforce Partnership remains dedicated to breaking the cycle of recidivism by empowering individuals with the tools and resources necessary for successful reintegration into the workforce and society at large, and this funding will help us achieve that goal.”

Part of the new Helping Justice-Involved Reentry Employment (HIRE) Initiative, the CWDB is funding more than $49 million to 19 statewide projects aiming to provide crucial training, reskilling, upskilling, and supportive services to individuals transitioning from incarceration to the community. “Investing in rehabilitation and economic opportunities for people who are justice-involved reduces recidivism and makes our communities safer,” said Curtis Notsinneh, Chief Deputy Director for the California Workforce Development Board. “Developed with input from stakeholders, HIRE builds upon our suite of reentry workforce initiatives and partnerships toward a more innovative and effective approach to justice.”

The grant designates the Workforce Partnership as the network hub with nine local partnering organizations as the spokes supporting the reentry population to receive funding from the awarded pool. The Workforce Partnership will work with organizations such as Lived Experiences—a grassroots organization founded in Oceanside, CA, that provides mobile laundry for unsheltered and formally incarcerated individuals, as well as mentoring and peer support, and Restoring Citizens—a local nonprofit helping formally incarcerated men through transitional housing, mental health issues and other challenges they face post-release.

Collaborating closely with the San Diego County Probation and Sheriff’s departments, the Workforce Partnership operates specialized career centers within the East Mesa Reentry Facility and Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility. Their Reentry services, including programs such as Prison to Employment, yield an average of 80% job placement rate. “Our evidence-based approach focuses on providing comprehensive pre-release employment and training services, facilitating access to post-release job opportunities, fostering earn-and-learn initiatives, and delivering essential supportive services like transportation, housing, and technology access,” said Dee Dorsey, program manager for SDWP’s Reentry Works services. “These efforts are aimed at creating lasting connections within the community, fostering a sense of belonging, and empowering individuals for sustainable, gainful employment.”

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