California is a state full of opportunity unlike any other, but it also possesses its own set of unique challenges. California’s poverty rate is 23.4 percent, according to the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, while 823,000 families in the state earn less than $15,000 annually from low-wage, low-skill jobs, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey reports.
The California Workforce Association is the membership organization of over 100 workforce development boards and organizations in California. Those organizations provide job training and placement services across 198 career centers, using federal funding from bipartisan legislation passed in 2014. In May, a federal budget began circulating around Washington that proposed a cut of over two-thirds of the investment in the workforce system across the country, threatening a system that serves as a pathway out of poverty for those here in California. Last year, close to 1.5 million people walked through the doors of California’s career centers. The workforce development system, and, with it, the future of many Californians, is in jeopardy.
The California Workforce Association is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through legislation and action. Assembly Bill 1111, the “Breaking Barriers Initiative,” introduced by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, is designed to provide services for the toughest-to-reach populations struggling with poverty in the state.
The bill would establish a competitive grant process, in which a community-based organization would partner with one of those local boards and submit a proposal to serve populations with the toughest barriers to employment, including veterans, persons with developmental disabilities, formerly incarcerated persons, migrant seasonal farmworkers and dislocated workers.
At its core, AB1111 exists to encourage a collaborative process. As federal dollars for workforce investment become scarcer and scarcer, it is important that organizations collaborate for the good of the people they serve. This bill is designed to fund myriad job placement programs and supportive services, open to any community-based organization in the state. This bill is not designed solely for the purpose of furthering construction trades jobs, but rather to provide a much-needed investment in Californians with the toughest challenges to employment, and providing a pathway out of poverty for not just a job, but rather a career.
AB1111 in no way,…