LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge


Using the LA:RISE model, Goodwill Southern California (GSC) will expand its current program in LA county to service more individuals in a holistic manner. The program provides formerly incarcerated an justice involved individuals, often those with the most barriers to employment, the opportunity to begin on a path to good jobs with a living wage through training, paid work experience, support services and transition to the next step in their employment journey.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Opportunities for People Who Have Been Incarcerated

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

Antelope Valley

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

According to the Public Policy Institute of CA, each year between 18-25,000 individuals are release from prison. Because of the many restrictions placed on them, especially those with a felony conviction, justice involved individuals face many barriers to finding a job or a place to live and accessing government services. A 2018 Prison Policy Institute report found that at least 25% unemployment rate among those formerly incarcerated. The inability to find work contributes to the cycle of recidivism where 2 out of 3 people leaving CA prisons return there within three years. (LA Times 3/2/2023). The common barriers faced include little or no prior work experience, an incomplete or inadequate education, basic and occupation skills gaps, undiagnosed learning difficulties, lack of access to computers and internet, and limited knowledge of how to access help. Other needs include housing, utilities, healthcare, mental healthcare, food, and access to reliable transportation and childcare.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

An expanded program will allow us to serve 3 additional cohorts of 20 individuals each from the target population. Interested individuals are vetted to ensure they meet eligibility requirements. Once accepted, Program Participants (PPs) are assigned a GSC case manager; assessed for interests, skills, supports needed, and fit for available government services; and co-enrolled with a WSC/YSC/AJCC partner. Next, PPs are given a 40 hour retail skills training of entitled Rise Up - Customer Service Training from the National Retail Federation and a 15 hour leadership course. Upon completion of the trainings, PPs are awarded a nationally recognized certificate and given a work assignment at a participating GSC store within 5 miles of their home if possible or on a GSC sponsored janitorial crew. Throughout the 300 hour paid work experience, PPs receive regular feedback from their case managers and work supervisor. Any service needs are addressed, especially those creating barriers to success at work. As the transitional employment phase ends, the PPs are assessed for next phase job readiness. Those deemed to need more time, enter into bridge employment to gain additional job skills. If no further prep time is needed, a case manager from the WCS/YSC/AJCCs takes over and assists the PP into mainstream employment or further training. The case manager keeps in touch with the PP for at least a year, checking on progress and determining if additional services are needed.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The formerly incarcerated in our communities face many obstacles to creating a self-sustaining life for themselves and families upon their release. One way to help them overcome some of the barriers, is to give them the soft and hard skills to be successful in a work environment and linking them to jobs and supportive services. Each year there are thousands of individuals who leave prison with few prospects. By providing assistance to as many of these individuals as our funding allows while developing a replicable program that other organizations can adopt, GSC helps this population by offering hope for a better future to those willing to make a change.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

GSC has operated the LA:RISE program for nine years. During that time the program has graduated over 900 participants. Each year an average of 80% of those who successfully complete the program are placed in employment while continuing to receive supports as needed. Additionally, many of our graduates go onto additional training in other fields through our education partners. The program has been successful is assisting these individuals remove the barriers to employment and thus providing the means to support themselves and to help their families.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 60

Indirect Impact: 300