Workforce program seeks to give participants $1,500 in emergency funds

Up to $1,500 in emergency funding could be made available to participants in the city’s next workforce development program, up from $500 previously pledged.

SA Ready to Work, which aims to place thousands of San Antonio residents in better-paying jobs through training and education, will provide the money to participants to cover emergency expenses related to housing, services services, daycare, food, transportation, Internet access, cell phone plans, legal assistance and more.

Michael Ramsey, executive director of the city’s Workforce Development office responsible for delivering the program, spoke about the new figure while updating council on the program’s fiscal year 2023 budget estimates. He said said the number was increased after feedback from council members and community partners. , and that high sales tax revenue projections related to the program allowed for the $6.2 million increase in emergency funding.

The increase would require a change to the contracts the program has with case management providers who work with participants. These providers are Restore Education, Project Quest, Workforce Solutions Alamo, and Alamo Colleges District.

“We want to make sure our case management agencies have all the resources they can to help people overcome the barriers they face,” Ramsey said.

The increase was welcomed by several board members, including Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (D2) and Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6), who said $1,500 could make a “huge difference”. Councilman Mario Bravo (D1) said he hoped to see the amount even higher in the future because he didn’t think $1,500 was enough.

Funding from sales tax revenues brought more money into the program than expected. While the program projected sales tax revenue of $39.5 million for the 2022 fiscal year, it will ultimately collect around $45.5 million.

The program is expected to cost $229.4 million over the next five years, funded entirely by a one-eighth of a cent sales tax. Voters approved the outline of the program and the sales tax in November 2020, with about 77% of voters approving.

Workforce Development Office staff also recommended using excess cash to increase funding for the program on television and radio advertising in English and Spanish. The proposal would add up to $400,000 to the program’s contract with Creative Noggin, responsible for publicizing the workforce program.

“Our marketing, outreach and grassroots efforts are going to be crucial in making sure we get people into the pipeline,” said Ramsey, who called outreach the program’s biggest bottleneck.

His office further recommended that the board authorize the program to enhance its services for participants seeking a high school equivalency diploma by entering into two new contracts with Restore Education and Alamo Colleges District.

The expected number of participants in the program has dropped since February, when the council approved the contracts for the program. At that time, staffers said the program is expected to attract nearly 40,000 applicants, train 36,000 and ultimately place around 28,000 jobs.

On Wednesday, Ramsey’s presentation said almost the same amount would apply, but only 28,000 would be trained and 15,600 placed in jobs.

The city has received pledges to participate in the program from 177 local employers. These employers include HEB, Frost Bank, Holt Cat, Navistar and Methodist Healthcare System.

The city council is due to vote on the proposed changes to the contract on May 19.

The program is expected to officially launch on May 16.

Alamo Colleges District, HEB and the Methodist Health System financially support the San Antonio report. For a complete list of member companies, click here.

Ryan H. Bowman