In 2023, working with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the API Council launched a Paid Training Pilot Project that engaged participants in job readiness preparation and placement for lower-income, underemployed job seekers. Five member organizations of the council  participated in the pilot program: Self-Help for the Elderly (SHE), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), Chinese Progressive Association (CPA),  Community Youth Center (CYC), and the Southeast Asian Development Center (SEADC). 

The pilot program focuses on job readiness preparation training and support in finding job placements, with participating organizations providing direct financial assistance in the form of living stipends and coaching support to ensure job retention for these participants. Participants in the program received job readiness skills, digital literacy training, job search assistance, and job placement support through the program. Each participant also received two living stipend payments for a total of $8,322. This direct financial assistance led to participants feeling more financially secure, with the stipends providing much needed relief for basic needs like food, housing, and transportation. 

The pilot’s living stipends also helped dramatically increase food security for low-income job seekers: the percentage of participants that reported running out of food once a month or more decreased by over 75 percent.  At the same time, community members also noted that the additional hands-on support via the program helped them develop stronger interview skills and gave them a better understanding of how to search and apply for jobs – all while strengthening their language and computer skills. With these renewed skills, community members were more confident throughout their job search. Pilot programs like this help the API Council offer policy recommendations to city leaders, with tested solutions to increase financial stability for our community members while strengthening the work of our member organizations.