CEO and Partners Awarded $6.9 Million California Workforce Development Grant

CEO Media Contact:

Matt Sutton | [email protected] | (202) 556-3291

First-of-its-Kind Grant will Provide $2.1M in Cash Stipends to More than 1,000 Californians Returning Home from Incarceration to Pay For Support Like Transportation, Housing and Other Essentials

December 4, 2023 – The Center for Employment Opportunities, the nation’s largest reentry employment provider, is thrilled to announce a $6.9 million grant from the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) that will provide critical support to a coalition of community-based organizations to expand reentry services in California. Approximately $2 million of the funding will go directly to Californians returning home from incarceration in the form of direct cash payments.

This grant comes as part of the Helping Justice-Involved Reenter Employment (HIRE) initiative funded by a $50 million line item in the state budget for which CEO, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and the Reentry Providers Association of California led the advocacy to secure. The initiative focuses on increasing employment opportunities and career mobility for justice-involved individuals. By ensuring individuals have critical reentry services coupled with cash to cover their most essential needs when they are released from incarceration, this investment will transform the employment landscape for justice-involved Californians.

Additionally, CEO will be supporting a network of best-in-class reentry providers - A New Way of Life (ANWOL), Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), People Working Together, Root & Rebound, Rubicon Programs, Starting Over, Inc, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Education Program, Inc, and Whole Systems Learning. The network will provide an array of employment and other complementary services to individuals recently released from incarceration, such as housing and legal services. As a “Hub,” CEO will be able to more effectively coordinate services for participants across providers and expand capacity to disburse cash payments across its network.

"This innovative and critical funding is a real game changer for Californians returning from incarceration. It will streamline CEO and our partners’ ability to provide direct cash payments and critical employment services–including immediate work with daily pay, career training, and wraparound support–when people need it most,” said Samuel Schaeffer, CEO of the Center for Employment Opportunities. “With this investment, California is leading the way and demonstrating the state’s commitment to creating real economic mobility for justice-impacted Californians, so they can build a better life for themselves and their families. It is the first state to make this kind of comprehensive employment investment in reentry services, and we hope it will be the first of many in the years to come.”

Comprehensive reentry workforce investment helps justice-involved individuals find gainful employment and have the necessary means to thrive. People returning from incarceration often face significant barriers to successfully reintegrate back into their communities, even when it comes to basic necessities, such as housing, employment, and food. Around 60% of individuals remain unemployed within the first year of being home.

“People Working Together United applauds the California Workforce Development Board directly for recognizing the value in providing support to the very crucial work happening in our organization. PWT will continue to champion the solutions that break the barriers people face who have been justice- impacted. The communities we serve will benefit immensely, and we hope to continue in partnership as California strives to create workforce accessibility for all.” -Cindy Brown, Founder and COO, People Working Together

“Root & Rebound is thrilled to be partnering with CEO, a coalition of strong partners, and the state of California to provide legal services to people in reentry that remove barriers they face in obtaining employment. I wish this partnership had existed while I was in reentry and feel so fortunate that we can now offer these expanded services to more people who are working to rebuild their lives after incarceration." Carmen Garcia, Executive Director of Root & Rebound.

“Rubicon Programs is excited to partner on this collaborative project to expand the reach and impact of needs-based payments to adults coming home from incarceration. This additional funding will allow Rubicon Programs to broaden and deepen our relationship-centered offerings at the Center of Reentry Excellence (CORE) in Oakland. Through this joint venture, we want to convey a sense of worthiness, humanity, and hope to community members returning home from incarceration so that they are encouraged and supported to invest in their own futures.” Dr. Carole Dorham-Kelly, President & CEO of Rubicon Programs

“When we work to create employment and economic opportunities for returning residents we are really talking about strengthening families and communities. Each success changes dynamics and helps break cycles of poverty and incarceration, that's what this funding will do all over California and this investment comes with returns we all see. Glad to be a partner of CEO and the CWDB.” Vonya Quarles, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Starting Over, Inc.

“Turning Point is excited to announce its partnership with CEO as part of the H.I.R.E initiative. This collaboration aims to enhance and expand support and job development options for the vulnerable reentry population, specifically women and youth, in the Los Angeles area. We will be able to leverage our relationships with other re-entry partners and use this funding to better serve those individuals who are justice-involved or exiting prisons in LA County and prepare them in re-establishing and develop functional life skills, self-awareness, community relationships, and job training and employment. This opportunity has long been hoped for, and now, it is becoming a reality, allowing us to positively transform countless lives.” - Michelle Perkins, Founder and Director of Turning Point.

“The Helping Justice-Involved Reenter Employment (HIRE) initiative marks the first Program that includes both juveniles and adults. Providing support for juveniles and young adults will create opportunities to move from the streets to the vocational classroom, into union jobs, and a different future. This is an unprecedented opportunity.” Eba Laye, President, Whole Systems Learning


About CEO

Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services exclusively to people recently released from incarceration. CEO currently operates in 30 cities in 12 states and is dedicated to ensuring that justice-impacted people have opportunities and careers to achieve socioeconomic mobility. For more information, please visit: