LA County program connects people experiencing homelessness with understanding and social services

LOS ANGELES, CA – Last week, Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC) hosted its fifth Careers for a Cause (C4C) graduation. Expanded by Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell and the LA County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS), C4C is an eight-week “earn and learn” program where all participants have lived homelessness experience, justice system involvement, or other experiences of marginalization. Participants are provided with paid training experience that will help them compete for jobs that provide homelessness and other social services.

On Friday, June 3, 27 C4C participants graduated from their training program at LASC. Since C4C was launched in October 2019, the program has celebrated 144 graduates. 36% of previous graduates have already secured employment, with the remaining participants to access ongoing employment services to help them secure a job.  

“With over 48,000 Angelinos living without shelter on any given night, it is critical that everyone is part of the solution to this crisis,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Chair, Holly J. Mitchell, representing the Second Supervisorial District. “We started the Careers for a Cause program in South Los Angeles as a way for those with lived experience to find meaningful careers in our County’s homeless services agencies. I am proud to support the Countywide expansion of this groundbreaking program so that we can train and employ our next generation of social services workers throughout Los Angeles County.”

“Meaningfully addressing our housing affordability and homelessness crises for our most vulnerable neighbors requires a skilled and empathetic workforce. C4C does just that,” said Kelly LoBianco, Executive Director of Economic and Workforce Development for LA County. “We are proud of this innovative model that values lived experience and builds a talent pipeline for the homelessness and social services sector. I’m grateful for the support and vision of the Board of Supervisors, and we are excited to announce our expansion and scaling of this program throughout LA County.

“I’m so grateful for the C4C program, which has taught me how to turn my personal experience into something that can help people in similar positions,” said Mitchell A. Mitchell A. has lived homelessness experience and is interviewing to become a Case Manager, hoping to engage in outreach and case management for people experiencing homelessness. “I can’t wait to help those who are living on the streets find the support and care that I have found through this program.”

C4C began as a pilot by the Second Supervisorial District. Along with WDACS and its network of America’s Job Centers of California, the LA County Department of Mental Health, Department of Human Relations, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, LASC, and St. Joseph Center collaborated to design, plan, and implement the unique C4C program. The success of the pilot resulted in a recommendation by the County’s Care First/Community Investment (CFCI) Committee to expand Countywide.

With the unanimous support of the Board of Supervisors in July 2021, $2.6 million of American Recovery Plan (ARP) Act funding was allocated to C4C to serve 220 new participants through June 2023. As a result of the ARP funding, C4C is expanding throughout all five Supervisorial Districts in LA County. To date, C4C has already launched at East Los Angeles College, Compton College, and LA Pierce College, as well as community-based organizations for outreach and supportive services including the St. Joseph’s Center, Amity Foundation, and Fathers and Mothers Who Care. Both Compton College and East Los Angeles College will host their first C4C graduations on June 9.

“Los Angeles Southwest College is truly honored to be a part of the Careers For A Cause program because of the life-changing opportunities that it provides all students who complete the program and who have had their entry way cleared to be hired for jobs in the homeless services sector,” said Dr. Seher Awan, Ed. D, President of Los Angeles Southwest College. “We have clearly seen that this program has played a critical role in increasing the workforce for these jobs and has also directly addressed the homelessness issue that our local community is facing.” 

For more information regarding the C4C Program, please click here.

CONTACT:  Michael Kapp, Director of Public Affairs

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