As reforms to federal welfare programs unfolded in the late ‘90’s, those with the greatest barriers to employment faced losing financial support, without the skills and services they needed to find and keep a job.
In response, as one of its early projects, EOI helped design and implement the Community Jobs (CJ) program, an innovative public-private partnership administered by the Washington State Office of Trade & Economic Development.
CJ was the first program of its kind in the nation to provide welfare recipients with paychecks for their work in the public and nonprofit sectors. Participants worked for nine months with local government or nonprofit organizations, at least 20 hours per week, while utilizing wrap around counseling, GED and ESL classes, childcare, and transportation services.
The partnership between EOI, Washington state agencies, community organizations and private sector employers helped build CJ into one of the most successful welfare-to-work programs in the country.
As other states and localities began similar programs, EOI helped found the Transitional Jobs Network (TJN) to share best practices, provide technical assistance, and advocate for increased federal funding for job advancement programs across the nation.
Today, Community Jobs and the Transitional Jobs Network are still building pathways out of poverty. CJ served 2,545 people in Washington between July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007 – each participant improving their own lives while strengthening their local economies and building new opportunities through their work for community and civic enterprises.