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Understanding the True Impact of Grants: Putting People Back to Work

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Learn how this eCivis Customer Success Manager went from being part of the inaugural cohort of the LA County Fellowship Management Program to helping youth and adults attain work.

One of the most inspirational aspects about working at eCivis is the opportunity to connect with former public servants who have been on the frontlines of program and grants management, serving governments and making real differences in their communities. 

Take Jay De La Rosa, for example. As a Customer Success Manager at eCivis focused on County governments, Jay helps grants and finance professionals use their grant management systems to streamline collaboration and administrative tasks like application intake and funding distribution–so his clients can quickly get dollars into the hands of those who need it most. 

Prior to eCivis, Jay worked at the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Aging and Community Services Department managing the programmatic and business services side of their grant funding. His work centered around helping youth and adults prepare for the workforce. Through his public service career, Jay came to have a deep understanding of the difference grants can make in a community.

Starting Out in County Government

The LA County Management Fellows Program is a two-year paid fellowship for those intending to pursue a career in County government and was modeled after the Federal Presidential Management Fellows Program. With 37 County departments, the program offers the opportunity to participate in many impactful programs and service-oriented operations including youth and family wellbeing, as well as mental health services, community based programs, and public safety. 

Jay was not only part of a select 73 out of 5,000 applicants to be hired through the program, but he was also part of the founding cohort in its inaugural year. Through the program, he was able to attain a real deep dive into all aspects of government work from procurement to finance, contracts, programs, and more. 

Jay was placed into LA County’s Youth Jobs Program. His job was to manage the programmatic side of grants and ensure the County expended at least $24 million in 8 months working with subrecipients and subcontractors and that they hit their goals. 

Putting LA County to Work

As Jay moved up in the County, he became in charge of developing employment programs and working with private corporations to train residents to either enter or re-enter the workforce. 

“I would help the County partner with private entities so they could use public resources to train people to get them up to speed through job interview prep, resume writing, and getting jobs,” Jay said. 

As part of the Workforce Development Division, Jay had to help create a pipeline of employees that could be employed with private corporations using unsubsidized funds. This entailed putting youth through fellowships for 120 hours where they would be paid with County dollars. As soon as the program concluded, they would be placed into employment. 

“We leveraged that program to put youth individuals between the ages of 16 to 24 into the private sector and provide incentive for the private sector by using County dollars for their first 120 hours of employment,” Jay said. 

After a successful program in partnership with at least six Starbucks locations, the County was able to get 200 youth signed up in the program and enrolled for the interview process. At least 10 percent of those that went through the entire process were hired. 

Demonstrating How Government Can Improve Communities

LA County joined the national community challenge from the Obama Administration “My Brother’s Keeper.” An important focus of the initiative was demonstrating how government agencies could improve their surrounding communities. 

As part of LA County’s efforts, Jay and his colleague created a community policing event within Latino and Black communities to help improve trust with public safety. In combination with the LA County Sheriff’s department and LA County Fire Department, they created a pilot program where youth from 18 to 24 shadowed LA County Fire Department officials as well as those from the Sheriff Department. 

“They would shadow these professionals two days a week for six hours a day and would have the ability to understand these job details,” Jay said. “We would also train them on how to interview, manage money, as well as better understand the process of applying to the County and other like jobs.”

Through this initiative, the County put 250 individuals throughout the course of at least 10 cohorts. At least 30 were hired with the County. 

Lessons Learned for Grants Management

One of Jay’s favorite parts about working at eCivis is helping clients understand how to maximize their grants management system so they too can deliver more impact in their communities. However, Jay emphasizes that it’s important to put in the work.

“I tell every client the system is like a gym membership,” Jay said. “If you don’t do anything with it, it’s not going to do anything for you. You have to put the work in and understand the process. There’s some change management at first. It might be initially uncomfortable, but once you get it, the system becomes intuitive and second nature, you’ll never want to go back to how you were operating before.”

In addition to putting in the time and effort to make sure governments understand their grants management system, Jay stresses the importance of speaking up if they encounter any issues or have questions. 

“Don’t suffer in silence,” he said. “If you don’t know what’s going on or need help, let us know.”

Rather than getting stuck in paper-based processes or having siloed departmental processes for grants, county governments as well as governments at all levels can dramatically increase impact in communities through innovative approaches, whether it’s improving community resilience or putting people back to work.

 

Ready to be the hero of your own story? Let us help you simplify your grants management so you can drive more impact in your community. 

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