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Spring 2022 Stakeholder Update from Omar Carrera, CEO

April 25, 2022

Dear Friends,

The impact that Canal Alliance makes in our community would not be possible without the support of generous people like you. As a key stakeholder in our efforts to help Marin’s Latino immigrant community to break the generational cycle of poverty, I am pleased to share this spring update.

Innovative public/private partnership addresses workforce needs

We continue to see impactful results with our Workforce Development Program, which was launched in 2018 to provide a key pathway for low-income individuals and families to break the generational cycle of poverty. Since the program began, 115 students have completed our certificate training program in construction and have gained quality employment with living wages, benefits, and opportunity for advancement in their careers. The program has a high one-year job retention rate of 87%, and wage increases that average 52% after one year on the job.

This innovative public/private partnership has engaged three partners to provide the elements needed for student success. An education partner provides the curriculum and training materials, and an employer partner commits to hiring graduates after they complete the program. As the third partner, Canal Alliance connects eligible clients to the program and provides wraparound case management services, not only while students are in the program but also extending two full years after they are hired. This enables us to address any challenges or barriers that may impede a student’s progress and to ensure early job success and retention.

While we continue to offer our construction training program, we will also expand our capacity to serve more students and offer training in more industries by piloting a new Certified Nursing Assistant program this fall in partnership with College of Marin and By the Bay Health.

Advocating for equity

Through the pandemic, Canal Alliance joined forces with other community-based organizations to advocate for the protection of Marin County residents most impacted by Covid-19. This coalition realized early success in advocating for tenant protections, including a local rent freeze moratorium and a resolution to bar evictions several weeks before the state implemented state-wide protections in January 2021.

Now the coalition has shifted its focus to advocate for longer-term change by releasing a report on the systemic inequities facing low-income communities of color in Marin, and presenting tangible actions for equity in the areas of family wellbeing, economic security, housing stability and data access. I invite you to read the report, Equitable Pandemic Recovery Strategies for Marin County, and share it with your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues.

Affordable housing

Over the past three years, Canal Alliance has been working to implement a comprehensive affordable housing strategy. This strategy includes expanding staff capacity to explore additional opportunities to acquire and preserve affordable housing beyond the 12 units we currently own and manage. We are also working through the Housing Element and Regional Housing Needs Allocation process to require jurisdictions to truly affirm fair housing—that is, to take active steps to reverse the effects of housing discrimination and reduce segregation. Selecting sites, increasing county-wide capacity and cooperation, and changing the narrative around housing are all part of our work advocating for the needs and rights of low-income and vulnerable residents of Marin, including immigrants. 

Recently, Canal Alliance was awarded the Raza Development Fund’s J. Tommy Espinoza Growing Diverse Housing Developers Fellowship, supporting our efforts to expand affordable housing. Selected through our membership in UnidosUS, Canal Alliance is honored to participate in this opportunity for professional and capacity development, strategic planning and technical assistance, and access to capital and investments.

Investing in youth

We are proud of the resiliency and determination that students in our programs have demonstrated over the past two years as they continue to work toward achieving their long-term goals. In May, we will celebrate the graduations of nine high school students and five college students from University Prep! (UP!), our college access and success program. In the 2022-2023 school year, UP! will support 164 youth, including 45 middle school students, 52 high school students, and 67 college students, who dream of becoming among the first in their families to obtain a four-year college degree.

A key priority over the next several years is the expansion of the program’s college-to-career services. Our goal is to provide more support for high school and college students to explore career options and internships, and to continue case management services for two years after students graduate from college. We want to ensure that UP! students not only graduate from college, but also have the support and resources needed for early career and professional success, as they acquire living wage jobs with career-path employment opportunities.

Community engagement

On February 26th, our community partner, Voces del Canal, hosted an exposition of their photos taken throughout the Canal neighborhood to highlight the need for improved lighting and safety conditions in the neighborhood. Working in collaboration with the City of San Rafael, Dominican University of California, and Canal Alliance, the members of Voces del Canal have identified seven routes in the community that need more public lighting—both to reduce crime and to allow residents to move about the neighborhood after nightfall without fear for their personal safety. Voces del Canal hopes that the exposition will expand dialogue between Canal residents and public employees, and ultimately lead to increased lighting and security in the Canal community.

This is just one area of advocacy made possible by our strengthened partnership. During the pandemic, Canal Alliance and Voces del Canal worked closely together to provide Covid health outreach, education, testing and vaccine registration in the community. We will continue this vital partnership to improve community safety, wellness and stability.

Thank you for your engagement and support. None of these initiatives would be possible without the dedication and investment of partners like you.

If you would like to learn more about the projects outlined here, please contact Jen Caynan, Senior Manager of Leadership Giving, at jenniferc@canalalliance.org.


Omar Carrera Signature

Omar Carrera

Chief Executive Officer

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