Homeless Employment and Jobs Training Programs in Action



In early 2020, the Lucky Duck Foundation launched a region-wide homeless employment and jobs training initiative. The intent of the program is to hire and train people experiencing homelessness to enable them to secure long-term employment. The successful initiative allows for the deployment of much-needed funding to existing and new employment programs to enable individuals to receive training and employment with the ultimate goal of securing housing to break the cycle of homelessness. Several hundred participants to date have benefitted from the different employment and job training programs, some of which are highlighted below.

If you are a homeless service provider, an employer, or an individual in need and would like more information on the programs available, please contact our Program Manager, Will Shea, at or call 858.259.6003.

SDCE Rising to Success Program


Rising to Success (R2S) works to break down barriers to student success by providing inclusive learning environments supported through increased access to and enrollment in SDCE’s FREE career training programs and targeted student support programs.

The program is designed specifically for homeless individuals and offers more than 75 job training opportunities and certifications. It includes a needs assessment, case management and support services, paid internships, transportation, and a direct pathway to the Promise Program for homeless individuals to pursue a college education as well as long-term employment. Participants can come directly from the street, any service provider, transitional housing, or any other state of housing or homelessness.  

In its first year, with funding from LDF, 147 individuals benefited from the program, with 52 securing long-term employment and 29 improving their housing situation. Funding from LDF and the Danna Foundation will enable the program to expand proportionally to benefit even more individuals.

Feeding San Diego, Salvation Army, and The Lucky Duck Foundation Food Rescue


The Lucky Duck Foundation collaborates with Feeding San Diego and the Salvation Army to fight hunger and homelessness in San Diego. The partnership has rescued more than 200,000 lbs. of food that otherwise would end up in the landfill and redistributed it to those in need, including individuals experiencing homelessness. With funding from LDF’s Employment and Job Training Program, the Salvation Army employs residents of their shelter as drivers to operate more than eight different routes to rescue approximately 30,000 lbs. of food per month. The food is rescued from numerous grocery stores including Costco as well as Starbucks and Amazon warehouses.

This collaboration is one of more than a dozen employment or job training programs the LDF has funded. Other programs include culinary training, community beautification, trash abatement, peer-to-peer outreach, paid internships for transition-age youth, and more. Thus far, more than 425 individuals have gained employment or job training, with more than 150 securing long-term employment and 115 improving their housing.

YMCA Connections


Connections 2020 is a 5-year federally funded program that assists underserved young adults throughout San Diego County by enhancing their relational and emotional skills and improving their economic stability. They assist participants in building interpersonal skills and increasing their work readiness skills to achieve a greater sense of well-being.

The YMCA helps youth participants learn how to develop healthy relationships, how to handle conflict and regulate emotions, how to effectively communicate with others, and ultimately, how to expand employability and increase income.

Kitchens For Good

Kitchens for Good believes that food changes lives and that all food has power and that all people have potential. They equip individuals with culinary and hospitality training, as well as the life skills needed to launch meaningful careers and make a positive impact on their communities. Apprentices gain valuable training and contribute to bettering their community by fighting food waste and hunger. Apprentices prepare thousands of healthy meals for hungry San Diegans, using surplus and cosmetically imperfect produce from wholesalers and farmers.

Dreams for Change

The mission of Dreams for Change is to respond to the needs of communities by creating innovative and cost-effective programs to empower and stabilize the lives of underserved families and individuals. The Dream’s Cuisine program provides workforce training through food trucks. They have three food trucks currently serving the community, two of which designed to sell meal options to low-income seniors and people experiencing homelessness. Dreams for Change believes that Communities thrive when people have the tools they need to build assets and create financial stability.

Wheels of Change

The Wheels of Change program empowers residents, builds self-esteem and provides meaningful transitional employment, while giving back to the community. Teams work 5 days a week to provide community clean ups including litter pick up, weed and brush abatement, and other community enhancement projects. Participants work closely with shelter case managers and housing navigators to access other wrap-around services. The program was initially launched locally by teenager, Kevin Barber, and his mom, Carolyn Barber, MD, in early 2018. They were inspired after visiting a similar program in New Mexico and believed it could be equally successful in San Diego. The Wheels of Change expansion in 2019 increased the program from one to two vans and expanded the crew from 10 to 20 individuals.

You Can Support These Homeless Employment Programs

The program was initially made possible by an anonymous $1 million gift arranged by Una Davis and will rely on donor support to in order to continue and expand. If you are interested in supporting this initiative, please visit our donation page. To stay in the know about programs like this, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social with the links below. 

Together, we can ensure the well-being of our unsheltered neighbors while helping them move from the streets to shelter, housing, and a healthier place in life.