Oakland CARES Act: Workforce Support Programs

The Economic & Workforce Development Department used CARES Act funds to provide employment support services to Oaklanders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: February 4th, 2021 2:20 PM

Last Updated: March 19th, 2021 7:27 PM

Overview of Programs

Recognizing that there was a strong need in East Oakland for programs that create opportunities for residents to gain valuable job skills that allow them to build wealth and prevent further displacement of long-term residents and their families, the Oakland City Council earmarked a $500,000 grant from EWD to support barber and cosmetology employment and training opportunities. The grant was awarded to The Brothers & Sisters Barber Cosmo Academy to provide Barber Instructor Program, Barber Crossover License, Cosmetology Crossover License, Manicurist Certificate and Refresher courses. Forty-four students, all people of color, completed the certification courses.

With support of a $200,000 in CARES Act funds from EWD, the Oakland Private Industry Council provided direct supportive services, webinars and peer presentations to Oakland residents who were laid off from their jobs. One-time grants of $600 directly to 132 COVID-impacted workers helped with rent, car payments, insurance, utilities, and groceries. About 75 percent of the grant requests were for rental and housing payments and utilities, or some combination of thereof. The program reached the vulnerable immigrant population with 9.1 percent of recipients identified as Permanent Residents and 2.5 percent holding valid Work Visas. Upwards of 235 impacted workers participated in the three multilingual webinars and four interactive peer presentations designed to assist them in finding a job by highlighting employment training and job placement services.

Lao Family Community Development used $100,000 in CARES Act funds through an EWD agreement to bring workforce development services to deep East Oakland residents, with a special focus on unsheltered residents at their CARE campus. Along with holistic support programs, services included employment assistance, job readiness, job placements, employment retention, and intensive case management. Investing in onsite enhancements allowed the group to place a portable building on the campus to help those most in need. From March 2020 to December 2020, Lao Family staff provided employment assistance to more than 165 individuals who were COVID-19 impacted. A total of 110 reentry individuals received stimulus funds while participating in employment services and intensive case management. The nonprofit successful implemented their first round of the Returning Citizen Stimulus for the first 50 reentry individuals and they all received a total of $2,750 per person in funds. The second round for an additional 60 reentry individuals received $1,650 per person in funds.

The City of Oakland’s Workforce Development Board launched a free, online skills training platform offered by Metrix Learning. Taking courses can help Oaklanders improve a wide variety of skills, earn industry certificates, launch into new careers or advance up the career ladder. Metrix Learning offers more than 5,000 courses leading to over 180 industry certificates, with online classes in English, Spanish and Cantonese. Accessible 24/7, the self-paced courses allow users to take the classes when it is convenient for them. Register at: https://oakland.metrixlearning.com/ Funding to acquire the platform came from CARES Act dollars.

Recipient Demographics

Pie Chart showing the race or ethnicity of the student participants in the Brothers & Sisters Cosmo Academy

All students participating in the Brothers & Sisters Barber Cosmo Academy certification courses identified as people of color.

Pie Chart showing the Race or Ethnicity of participants supported by the Oakland Private Industry Council

Persons of color represented 98% (129 out of 132) served by the Oakland Private Industry Council with Direct Supportive Services.

While most were U.S. citizens, the program also supported Permanent Residents (9.1%) and individuals with valid Work Visas (2.5%).

In addition, 8.33% (10) were unhoused or in unstable/transient housing. 30.3% of the recipients were residents for whom English is a second language.

pie chart showing ZIP Codes for reentry participants served by the Lao Family

Reentry participants came from across Oakland, with

  • 18% hailing residing in the 94621 ZIP Code
  • 12% from 94605
  • 11% each from 94603 and 94612
pie chart showing the race of the Reentry participants served by Lao Family

82% of the reentry participants were African American.

pie chart showing the age of the reentry participants served by the Lao Family

72% of the reentry participants were between 25 and 44 years old.

The next large age group, those participants 18-24, represented 22% of the group.

A total of 31 individuals co-enrolled into the Prison to Employment Program. 13 individuals gained certification in Environmental Remediation training, and 15 of them gained full-time employment with an average wage of $18/hour.



"After hearing about the CARES act grants, I decided to pursue the instructor course since it would make me more valuable in the barber and cosmetology business. I also love that as a bilingual instructor I can giving back to all students regardless of race, or language." Graciela

"Covid-19 affected my job opportunities after graduating from high school in 2020. Coming out of high school, I had a niche for the beauty industry, but the CARES act grants through the Brothers and Sisters Barbercosmo Academy, has helped take my passion to another level."

"As a business owner I had to close down my shop during the shelter in place. But I seized the moment through the CARES Act to enroll in the instructor course and give back to the Brothers and Sisters Barbercosmo Academy where I first became licensed."

"I started cutting hair when I was 17, and through the CARES Act grants, I have been able to turn my side hustle into a main hustle."

I want to say thank you to the Oakland Private Industry Council for the assistance I received in December 2020. I am very happy and thankful for the CARES ACT program that helped my HOA fee payment. I have had a hard time finding a job to pay my bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Benjamin Li, Oakland Resident

I am so grateful for Mr Yawo and the West Oakland Neighborhood Career Center for helping me and my family keep our electricity and transportation during these difficult times. Thank you.” Abdinasir Ismail, Oakland Resident

"I have been struggling to pay my bills due to COVID-19. I am unemployed and it has been very difficult to make my payments for rent and utility bills. This assistance really helped me and my family during this difficult time.” Jian Gao, Oakland Resident

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