The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) recently granted $175,000 to Women’s Empowerment. Funds will be given over three years to strengthen the Sacramento nonprofit’s workforce development strategies for women who are homeless, including women who are hardest to hire – those recently escaping domestic violence, single mothers with interrupted education who lack consistent work history, and those with misdemeanors or felonies on their record.
“Finding a job right now is hard, but when you’re a homeless woman it can feel impossible, especially when you’ve escaped domestic violence or made serious mistakes in your past,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We are grateful to Cal Wellness for recognizing these barriers to employment and understanding the powerful impact that work has on the health of a family.”
Women’s Empowerment’s initial eight-week program for women who are homeless addresses their basic needs such as health and housing while preparing them to become work-ready. The job-readiness component is predominantly taught by skilled volunteers from the community and includes computer literacy training, resumes, communication skills, mock interviews, dressing for success and learning to keep a job. Graduates who need additional training can enroll in Women’s Empowerment’s advanced job-readiness program that includes internships, paid job training, vocational certifications and more.
The grant also will support Women’s Empowerment’s The Get A Job Kit Training that provides paid on-the-job training for its graduates. The program trains women in the production, customer service, shipping and receiving industries, and includes experiential education, on-the-job training and active job development with employment specialists. Trainees assemble The Get A Job Kits to sell to customers across the country, including U.S. military organizations helping veterans transition into the civilian sector, technical schools and community colleges preparing students to face a competitive job market, employment counselors helping at-risk youth, and CalWORKS and Welfare to Work programs empowering mothers to become self- reliant. The Get A Job Kit has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and CNBC, and in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.
The project is funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation. Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded 7,690 grants totaling more than $912 million. The foundation’s Advancing Wellness grants program is grounded in research on the social determinants of health, which states that where people live and work, their race or ethnicity, and their income can impact their health and wellness.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Women’s Empowerment was recently featured on NBC’s TODAY Show as an innovation and effective solution to ending homelessness for women and their children. The 2014 Organization of the Year has graduated 1,297 homeless women and their 2,700 children. Last year, 93 percent of graduates found homes and 83 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines confidence-building courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded solely through private donations from the community. To donate online: www.womens-empowerment.org.