(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted her investments in critical job training and career readiness programs put at risk by budget cuts proposed by the Council. The Council’s proposal would permanently cut $17.4 million from several employment and workforce development programs administered the Department of Employment Services (DOES), effectively ending access to Project Empowerment, Career Connections, and other adult job training programs for over 1,400 residents beginning in September 2020.
“As we combat displacement, now is not the time to cut critical programs that equip some of our most vulnerable residents, including returning citizens, with the skills and knowledge they need to secure good-paying jobs,” said Mayor Bowser. “We cannot turn our backs on residents who often have the hardest time finding employment. These programs are not only changing lives, but, in many cases, they are saving lives.”
Project Empowerment serves as a safety net for returning citizens and their families by providing focused training, preparation, and ongoing advocacy. Last year, 390 returning citizens were able to gain employment through Project Empowerment. On an annual basis, Project Empowerment serves over 700 men and women, with the highest concentration of residents from Wards 7 and 8.
“The Council’s budget cuts will ultimately cause a ripple effect throughout our local workforce,” said DOES Director Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. “Reductions in funding for workforce development initiatives, education, and job training services will lead to a rise in unemployment as residents will have limited access to the tools and resources needed to obtain economic stability.”
DOES has placed an increased emphasis on providing individualized support that is tailored to the needs of the District’s diverse population through adult job training programs. Without continued full investment in these critical workforce programs, the growth of the District’s economy will be adversely impacted.