The Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative is intended to supplement existing workforce and education programs by providing services to ensure the success of individuals either preparing to enter or already enrolled in workforce and education programs. The individuals with barriers to employment completing these programs should have the skills and competencies necessary to successfully enter the labor market, retain employment, and earn wages that lead to self-sufficiency, and eventually, economic security. These services must be delivered through a collaborative partnership between mission-driven, community-based organizations with experience in providing services to the target population and local workforce development boards.


In October 2017, the California Legislature approved Assembly Bill (AB) 1111, Removing Barriers to Employment Act (Chapter 824, Statutes 2017), which established the Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to create a grant program that provides individuals with barriers to employment the services they need to enter, participate in, and complete boarder workforce preparation, training, and education programs aligned with regional labor market need.

In July 2018, the California Legislature approved Senate Bill (SB) 856 (Budget and Fiscal Review, Chapter 30, Statutes 2018), which appropriated $15,000,000 in state general funds to implement the Removing Barriers to Employment Act.

Breaking Barriers to Employment Grant Program

The Breaking Barriers to Employment Grant Program’s aim is to provide services to target populations who are often not eligible for other state and federal programs. The list of eligible activities are inclusive, from basic education and adult education, to on-the-job training, to supportive services as well as the list of target populations.

To support the awarded projects, the CWDB is funding technical assistance and evaluation projects. The technical assistance project will provide team building activities, facilitate knowledge sharing, identify course corrections, and assist with developing sustainability plans. The evaluation project will assist the department in developing a framework, creating surveys, developing questionnaires, conducting interviews, convening focus groups, and drafting mandated interim and final reports to the Legislature.

The CWDB, in partnership with the California Workforce Association, organized and facilitated a series of stakeholder engagement meetings throughout California from February 2019 to March 2019. The purpose of the engagement was to inform key stakeholders of the Breaking Barriers to Employment’s requirements and funding opportunities, and to solicit feedback for the development of the Request for Applications and implementation of the grant program.


AB1111 Award Announcements:

AB1111 Breaking Barriers to Employment Awards Announcement:
Thank you to everyone who applied for AB1111. We received 130 proposals and the process was highly competitive. View the AB1111 awarded projects (New).

AB 1111 Executive Summaries
AB 1111 Orientation PowerPoint

AB1111 Grant Operation Resources:

AB1111 Data Reporting Guide
AB1111 RFA

CalJOBS Training Webinar Series
AB1111 CalJOBS Part 1
AB1111 CalJOBS Part 2A
AB1111 CalJOBS Part 2B
AB1111 CalJOBS Part 3

AB1111 Data Guide Webinar
AB1111 Data Guide Webinar Q&A

Breaking Barriers to Employment Interim Report

Target Populations

Target Populations

  • Youth who are disconnected from the education system or employment
  • Women seeking training or education to move into nontraditional fields of employment
  • Unskilled or under-skilled, low-wage workers
  • Persons for whom English is not their primary language
  • Economically disadvantaged persons
  • CalWORKs participants
  • Persons who are incarcerated and soon to be released or formerly incarcerated
  • Armed services veterans
  • Native Americans
  • Migrants or seasonal farmworkers
  • Persons with developmental or other disabilities
  • Immigrants
  • Persons over 50 years of age who need retraining for in-demand skills
  • Any other population with barriers to employment identified in subdivision (j) of section 14005 of the Unemployment Insurance Code

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