The Program

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. This includes job seekers who are veterans, TANF recipients, SNAP (food stamp) recipients, Vocational Rehabilitation recipients, SSI recipients, and individuals who live in certain income communities.

In California, the Employment Training Panel (ETP) provides funding to employers to assist in upgrading the skills of their workers through training that leads to good-paying, long-term jobs. The ETP was created in 1982 by the California State Legislature and is funded by California employers through a special payroll tax. ETP has a tripartite governing structure, with appointed Panel members representing businesses, unions, and state government. The ETP is a funding agency, not a training agency. Businesses determine their own training needs and how to provide training. ETP staff is available to assist in applying for funds and other aspects of participation.

Now a permanent part of the Panel program, the Ex-Offender/At-Risk Youth training program began as a pilot project in September 2007. The Panel implemented the Pilot project in order to provide critical job skills training and jobs to ex-offenders and youth at risk of becoming involved in gangs and/or criminal activities.

When we became a registered apprenticeship program, we decided to begin pre-apprenticeship in-custody as a means to engage a bridge to future employment through evidentiary exams and skill demonstration.

The Drivers in our success is desire to succeed. As a mutual benefit corporation we stand apart from the other types of nonprofits in that our mission is to serve our members and not the public. However our secondary mission is to improve public safety through the service of those members described in the Ex-Offender/At-Risk Youth category.

Our Projects may be funded to serve either unemployed or employed individuals with a criminal record who are currently, or have been, in parole status; or young adults (18 to 23 years of age) who are deemed to be at risk for becoming involved in anti-social activities.

Our Projects must emphasize training to support the long-term job preparation and job security of the ex-offender trainees, and/or training to assist at-risk youth in learning work skills and helping them find and succeed in a career path.

The minimum and maximum training hours are 8 and 260. An approved justification is required to exceed the maximum training hours.

Pre-apprenticeship training is a priority. Occupations trained under the Governor’s Career Technology Education Initiative will be targeted. ETP recognizes the following occupations as, Career Technical Education (CTE), but not limited to; electrician, welder, certified nurse assistant, drafter, machine operator, and computer operator (Which is where our story begins).

As we’re telling you more about what we do, we also want to be clear about what CPA programs are not designed to do:

  • Not designed to provide a source of cheap labor: all participants must receive benefits
  • Not designed to add stress and workload for corrections staff or incarcerated people- we intend to support culture change, improve work and living environment, and provide stress relief from prison life
  • Not designed to “greenwash” prisons — all people, including people in prison, deserve access to environmental & sustainability education & opportunities to contribute. Over and over again we hear from incarcerated people and corrections staff that they want these programs;
  • While some CPA programs save the prison system operating funds through reduced resource use, many programs are offered purely for their educational value. Our main driver is changing lives through education and opportunities for positive contributions.
  • Our programs do not mandate that incarcerated people participate; CPA is available as an option. If people try our programs and don’t like them, we work with them to find a better fit. These programs don’t resonate with everyone and our shared success depends on shared interest and investment.

The course is:

  • Academic: it provides an introduction to gardening concepts & principles and eleven advanced topics.
  • Peer-led: program partners create a plan for who will facilitate, who will clerk, and who will offer expertise on various topics.
  • At least $40 for every student; that’s the printing cost for a 500-page coursebook and every student needs their own. CPA may be able to supply California programs.
  • 100+ hours of content
  • Supported by staff sponsors who track class & student completion; report completion & class feedback to CPA-CompTIA; award CPA-CompTIA certificates. Programs planned and implemented without CPA-CompTIA staff will need to develop their own certification program.
  • Without electronic equipment needs — no PowerPoint or videos are included in the course.
  • For best results, provide classroom time for group study plus garden time for hands-on practice. The classroom space may be indoors or outdoors (conditions permitting). Ideally, students have access to computer space as a group throughout the course; other approaches may work fine and will be less optimal.