Food Stamp Employment & Training (FSET) dollars fund programs that help Food Stamp recipients gain the skills they need to succeed in the labor market. Until recently, a government match requirement has limited the availability of funds for program expansion. A new approach to meeting federal match requirements, called the “third-party match model,” allows more community employment and training providers to participate in FSET. First pioneered by Washington State several years ago, the third-party match model is now being refined to meet the needs of California by the Insight Center’s FSET Expansion Initiative.
The third-party match model provides local communities with significant added resources to support the economic self-sufficiency of low-income residents. With well-designed program budgets and adequate FSET participation, community providers can expand their continuum of services, serve more clients, help clients pay for expenses such as tuition and transportation, and bring in new, sustainable program funding. Ideal candidates for this third-party match include community colleges, adult schools, and community-based agencies that provide or wish to provide a significant amount of employment and training services.
The FSET Expansion Initiative, a partnership with the California Association of Food Banks, supports governmental entities and organizations interested in developing or expanding FSET programs. In the first phase, it educates San Francisco Bay-Area counties about FSET and the third-party match model, develops Bay Area pilot projects, and advocates increase access to FSET. It provides technical assistance in planning and implementation of FSET, offers peer learning opportunities, and develops new standards, protocols, and economies of scale. In the next phase, it will modify and improve upon the third-party match model, test it in California, and expand it to programs outside of the state.
The Initiative is currently working with three pilot projects to develop the first third-party match programs in California. Known as Cal Success programs, these programs are county-community college partnerships of Skyline College and San Mateo County, De Anza/Foothill Colleges and Santa Clara County, and Cabrillo College and Santa Cruz County. These community colleges will implement their third-party match programs within the next six months using federal FSET funding.
For more information on the FSET Expansion Initiative and other FSET resources, visit www.fsetexpansion.org.