California Organizations receive grant funds for migrant and seasonal workers

On June 29, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it was giving away more than $84 million to 68 organizations nationwide through the National Farmworker Jobs program. The program works to help eligible workers improve job skills and train for careers in emerging industries that offer higher wages and stable employment.

The grants will work to help the chronic unemployment and underemployment of migrant and seasonal workers that primarily work in agricultural jobs. The majority of the money will go to organizations in order to provide training, employment and support services to farmworkers and their families. The remaining resources will go to organizations to provide temporary or permanent housing assistance.

“Agricultural workers face significant barriers to stable employment, and all too often it is their families who pay the price,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a press release announcing the grant funding. “These grants address this reality by not only helping workers improve and expand their job skills, but also by providing housing and other crucial support services.”

Grants for career and occupational training were awarded to five California organizations including the County of Kern and the Central Valley Opportunity Center. Proteus Inc., a La Cooperativa member, also received grant funds. Proteus, Inc. is an organization created to provide exceptional education, employment, training, and other services to the diverse population of Tulare, Kings, Fresno, and Kern counties. Proteus Inc. also focuses on green technology and providing solar training.

Housing assistance grants were given to three California organizations to help agricultural workers in California’s central coast region, the San Joaquin Valley along with unincorporated areas of Monterey County. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these grants will provide permanent housing assistance, which includes pre-development and development services; project management; and resource development to secure acquisition, construction or renovation, and other operating funds for farmworker housing temporary and/or emergency housing assistance which includes pre-development and development services; project management; and resource development to secure acquisition, construction or renovation, and other operating funds for farmworker housing.

The grants will be given over the next two years on an annual basis starting July 1, 2011.