Year End Message from VWDB Director, Judith Velasco

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to wish you and your families a happy and restful holiday season. It is my hope that you enjoy a sense of accomplishment in serving as a board member for the Verdugo Workforce Development Board during 2020. Your continued support, guidance, and contributions made it possible for us to receive distinguished recognitions and provide innovative supportive services that have provided relief to our community.

I am excited to share that the State of California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) approved our application to be a High Performing Board. This designation is conferred only to boards in California who have exceeded the application requirements. To achieve this distinction, the VWDB was required to demonstrate in our application that we exceeded all six performance measures for adult programs; exceeded all youth program performance measures; met the expenditure measure which requires us to spend 30% of our funding on training; and included a Business Services Plan that identified workforce, skill gaps, emerging industries, and growth occupations. To demonstrate the difficulty in meeting these high standards, only 39 of the 46 boards in California earned the designation. This is a proud moment for our organization and an encouraging note on which to end the year.

The end of the year provides an opportunity to reflect on challenges and successes, and when I look back on the work of the VWDB and VJC this year, I feel a profound sense of pride and gratitude for our ability to provide needed support for the communities we serve. We watched thousands of workers lose their jobs and apply for unemployment, and witnessed business owners’ confusion and distress over the uncertainty around whether they will be able to open their businesses again. In response, the VWDB and VJC developed innovative methods to provide our services virtually; and we guided members of marginalized groups, including individuals with disabilities and English Language Learners, through our life-changing resources. According to the Employment Development Department, we are one of the few workforce boards to exceed enrollment goals and almost fully expend our COVID-19 emergency grant funds. These results support the VJC’s effectiveness in getting emergency services immediately to the people who need them. To date, hundreds of participants have received supportive services of up to $3,000 per person to assist them in paying for rent, utilities, medical expenses, and other critical living expenses during this difficult time. Throughout, our board members’ support and participation, both during and outside of our scheduled meetings, have kept us moving forward. 

With all this said, there is still much work to be done. We are focused on writing our compelling Career Services Application to the State of California, which allows the VJC to continue providing our own career services. We are working on our Four-Year Local Workforce Development Plan and are looking forward to releasing our Youth Services Request for Proposal in early 2021. Your participation in these three activities will ensure their success. 

Thank you for your continued commitment to the well-being of our community. –– Judith Velasco, Executive Director Verdugo Workforce Development Board