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Oakland nonprofit gets $3.5 mil for job training

Just got off a conference call with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Rep. Barbara Lee and other House members, on which they announced the release of more than $225 million in health care and high growth training grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Unity Council, an Oakland-based economic and neighborhood development nonprofit, will get $3.5 million for its Healthcare Sector Career Initiative, a job-training program aiming to builds the pool of qualified bilingual/bicultural healthcare workers, strengthens job retention, and promotes career advancement within Alameda County’s healthcare industry.

Lee, D-Oakland, said the funding will help this “phenomenal organization … in ensuring that low-income and unemployed residents throughout the region will receive high-quality training and employment services that will lead to good-paying jobs in the ever growing health care industry.”

Unity Council CEO Gilda Gonzales said in an e-mailed statement that the money will help expand the program geographically and in the number of individuals participating.

“These are not just jobs,” Solis said of the overall funding release, but rather jobs with good pay, benefits and advancement opportunities. Well over 700 applications came in for this funding, she said, and 55 were granted.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, was on the call too, touting a $5 million grant to San Jose State University for job retraining for unemployed people, particularly veterans; she said it’s important to Silicon Valley in this economic downturn that workers can upgrade their skills for better jobs.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.