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Workforce Development Grant Program

In the spring of 2017 the Oakland City Council enacted landmark cannabis legislation to promote equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities of color and address the disproportionate impacts of the war on drugs in those communities. To date the City of Oakland’s strategies have explicitly focused on promoting business ownership for equity applicants through prioritized permitting, exemption from application and permit fees, technical assistance, and financial assistance via the Equity Loan and Grant Programs.

The City of Oakland is seeking to advance workforce development opportunities in the cannabis industry for those most harmed by the war on drugs through $1,000,000 in grant funds received from the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz). Specifically, the Cannabis Workforce Development Grant Program will provide up to $50,000 for each equity applicant that recruits, trains, and retains a qualified and diverse workforce. This program can serve as a win-win for equity business owners and employees by:

  • Supporting equity business owners as they grow their business; and
  • Offering equity employees with the training and experience needed to place them on the path to high-quality, well-paying jobs. within the cannabis industry or in other industries beyond the one-year grant period.

Who is Eligible for Funding?

Cannabis equity applicants, as defined by Oakland Municipal Code (OMC) Sections 5.80 and 5.81, that have been verified by the City Administrator’s Office are eligible to receive funding.

What Can Workforce Development Funds Be Used On?

Funds can be used on the recruitment, training, and retaining of equity employees. This includes the funding of entities that recruit equity employees or provide training on skills, techniques, or applications the equity employee is unfamiliar with, including use of METRC or different cannabis manufacturing or cultivation techniques.

Funds may not be used for any purpose other than the recruitment, training, and retaining of equity employees and an equity business owner may not use any workforce development funds to cover their own salary.

What is an Equity Employee?

An “equity employee” is defined under OMC Section 5.04.481 as:

  1. An employee who lives in any combination of Oakland police beats 2X,2Y, 6X, 7X, 19X, 21X, 21Y, 23X, 26Y, 27X, 27Y, 29X, 30X, 30Y, 31Y, 32X, 33X, 34X, 5X, 8X, and 35X and has lived in any combination of such police beats for the immediately preceding two (2) years; or
  2. An employee who lives anywhere in Oakland and was arrested after November 5, 1996 and convicted of a cannabis crime in California.

Please note the qualifying police beats for an “equity employee” under OMC Section 5.04.481 are the same as those for an “equity applicant” under OMC Sections 5.80 and 5.81. To research police beats please visit here.

What is the Application Process?

Equity business owners interested in cannabis workforce development grants must complete the Cannabis Workforce Grant Application and submit the complete application to City staff will review and score complete applications based on the scoring criteria outlined in the application for each question.