After seeing the success of its first graduates, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is bringing back the Careers for a Cause program which trains people in South Los Angeles for essential jobs in the homeless services industry. The inspiring stories of those first graduates, many of whom have experienced homelessness themselves, became the subject of a special report by reporter Thomas Curwen in the Los Angeles Times.
Recruitment is now underway for the second cohort of students to begin the eight-week non-certificate program in September 2020. Interested applicants must register here by July 9th to virtually attend an information session.
As a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, Careers for a Cause is launching an online curriculum and providing students with Chromebooks, in addition to career exploration and assessment, job shadowing, skills training, on-the-job coaching, and job retention support. Students will also receive a weekly stipend and wraparound support services.
“I urge you to join us in the fight against homelessness by partnering with Careers for a Cause,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged both prospective students and their prospective employers in the homeless services industry. “With the pandemic further exacerbating homelessness, unemployment and economic inequity, we need your expertise, experience and exceptional insight more than ever.”
Algenia Harding, one of Careers for a Cause’s first graduates who later become one of its first employees, said, “It not only helped me professionally but personally. To me, it opened the door to understanding how the system actually works. But what I liked most was that it helped our class to understand how to maximize our lived experience, our passions, and what we would have called failures and struggles — and make them marketable.”
Va Lecia Adams Kellum, Ph. D., Executive Director of the nonprofit homeless services agency St. Joseph Center, said, “We believe that staffing our teams with people with lived experience is critically important. Staff members who have been homeless, or maybe faced generations of poverty, bring a perspective to the work that is profound. We also know how impactful it is for people who are rebuilding their lives to have employment that matches their expertise and gives them a chance to reshape their future. By hiring people with lived experience, we give them that opportunity. ”
“The Careers for a Cause educational program provides South L.A. residents with the opportunity to capitalize on their personal experience and the challenges that they have overcome,” said Effie Turnbull Sanders, Executive Director of the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z), which is leading the recruitment effort. “Over the course of eight weeks, students will develop their personal agency skills to affect change within their community, and learn to use these skills to build fulfilling careers.”
50 homeless service agencies and organizations from across Los Angeles County attended a recent webinar hosted by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to encourge participation in Careers for a Cause. The list included Chrysalis, SCHARP, Wellnest, Goodwill Southern California, PATH, HOPICS, SRO Housing Corporation, Midnight Mission and countless others. Almost all have signed up to partner with Careers for a Cause as guest speakers and mock interviewers, and to provide internship and employment opportunities. Many also indicated they would like to get involved by providing employment opportunities to C4C graduates.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas invested $100,000 of his discretionary fund to develop the first cohort of Careers for a Cause in October 2019. The classes were held at Los Angeles Southwest College in partnership with the Los Angeles County’s Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services Department (WDACS), tSt. Joseph Center and SLATE-Z. Several of the first graduates have already been hired as case managers and other workers in the homeless services industry.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has approved an additional $650,000 in funding to support five additional cohorts over the next two years. Enhanced program components include a full-time case manager, job developer and weekly training stipends.