Leveraging good ideas and past success - matched with calculated risk, experimentation and hard work - several partners of the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department and the Workforce Investment Board have successfully secured Workforce Accelerator Fund (WAF) grants from the California Workforce Investment Board.
Workforce Accelerator Fund 2.0 grants are the brainchild of the California Workforce Investment Board (CWIB) and the Employment Development Department (EDD). Offering small grants (less than $150,000) with a relatively easy application and a quick timeframe, WAF grants fund projects that "design, develop, and implement projects accelerating employment and re-employment strategies for California job seekers."
The CWIB and EDD use WAF to fund "promising practices" and forge partnerships to prototype innovative strategies that will close education and workforce gaps for targeted populations including the long-term unemployed, homeless, veterans, individuals with disabilities, disconnected youth and ex-offenders. The point of WAF grants is to fund strategies that will "move the needle," build capacity and be shared throughout California's workforce development systems.
In 2014, eighteen projects were funded. One of these was local West and Central YouthSource Centers operator, Regents of the University of California (UCLA Community Based Learning), in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center at Highland, launched Transition 2 Work (T2W). Seeking to tackle the unemployment problem of homeless and transgender young youth and young adults, the initiative created knowledge and paths for employment and cultural competency among staff. The program has been successful and is currently creating a toolkit for training the entire YouthSource center network.
The June 2015 WAF 2.0 awarded an additional $100,000 to the T2W program and will also fund three additional, local agencies that currently partner with Los Angeles' Workforce Development System:
- $100,000 for JVS Los Angeles (operator of Marina Del Rey WorkSource Center) to fund and expand the JVSLA BankWork$, a program that trains job seekers for careers within the financial sector
- $100,000 to Community Career Development, Inc (operator of Wilshire Metro WorkSource Center) to fund Transportation Works: Truck Driver/Bus Operator Accelerator Project, a project that expands the successful Metro Bus Driver initiative
- $148,000 to Los Angeles Valley College Foundation to fund Bridging the Gap, an expansion of the innovative LA Fellows program. Bridging the Gap will help mature (50+) long-term unemployed workers to launch into new careers through volunteer internship stints at local nonprofits paired with 140 hours of cohort-based skills training
During the course of the 2015-16 Program Year, the four awardees will be invited to share best practices and provide presentations regarding their innovative programs to the City's workforce development community at upcoming Workforce Investment Board meetings.
For more information on WAF 2.0 and to see a complete list of awardees, please visit www.cwib.ca.gov/Initiatives.htm
- YouthSource Centers
- California Workforce Investment Board
- California Employment Development Department