SDCCD awarded $1.8M grant to help disabled people earn a decent wage

September 1, 2023 | San Diego Community College District

The San Diego Community College District has been awarded a $1.8 million California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation grant focused on training people with disabilities so they are competitive for jobs earning at least the minimum wage. The three-year grant will allow the district to serve more than 100 disabled people who are now working in jobs that pay below the minimum wage.

Four people take a group photo in a hallway of a campus building
Students from San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE photo).

The grant is the result of state legislation, SB 639, that requires workers with disabilities to be paid at least the state’s minimum wage by 2025. The law requires the State Council on Developmental Disabilities to create a plan detailing how the state can help disabled workers get the services and support for jobs paying at least the minimum wage.

Federal labor law has allowed employers to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage, with some being paid as low as 15 cents an hour. This has led to continued poverty for disabled people, who have a poverty rate of 18.4% compared to 11% for Californians with no disabilities, according to the state Legislature.

“I take a great deal of pride that the district will be in the center of resolving this longstanding social problem,” said Poppy Fitch, Dean of Wellness and Disability Support Programs and Services for the district.

The district’s Disability Support Programs and Services will be working with the disabled services program at San Diego College of Continuing Education to serve participants in the program. The college already offers a vocational skills training program, while the district will provide vocational support services, including vocational counseling, educational coaching, peer mentoring, employment services, and post-employment support. 

"I am thrilled to see our state make this significant change for some of the most overlooked individuals in our society,” said Tina M. King, President, San Diego College of Continuing Education. “San Diego College of Continuing Education is ready to work collaboratively with the district to lead this effort in supporting our DSPS students achieve livable wages."

A similar grant was awarded to the North Orange County Community College District, and together with the Department of Rehabilitation, will be partners in this effort with the San Diego Community College District.

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