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Special Initiative Programs

Click below for important information, including guidance for staff and project contact information for the following Workforce Solutions special initiatives: Income Now, Jobs Plus, Food Bank and THRIVE.

  • Income Now

    OverviewIncome Now

    Workforce Solutions has partnered with the Coalition for the Homeless and other homeless service providers to help individuals experiencing homelessness find employment.

    Homeless provider employment counselors are stationed at the Workforce Solutions offices that have a higher volume of customers who experience homelessness. Currently, these offices are East End, Northline, Southwest and Westheimer.

    Similarly, Workforce Solutions employment counselors are also working at homeless shelter locations and provider sites, such as Covenant House, The Salvation Army - Harbor Light, The Salvation Army - Young Adult Resource Center, Star of Hope Men's Development Center and Star of Hope Women & Families.

    We expect the integration of the workforce and homeless service systems to lead to an improved service experience for people experiencing homelessness. By learning from our partner agencies, Workforce Solutions staff will be better prepared to provide employment assistance to those experiencing homelessness and partner agencies will better understand Workforce Solutions services and resources.

    To help with this effort, Workforce Solutions navigators will work with career office staff to help each office understand the resources available to better assist people experiencing homelessness find employment.

    Special Guidance

    Office managers should invite navigators to attend meetings and huddles to share information about Income Now, employment services and resources for individuals experiencing homelessness.

    Office managers may periodically receive surveys about the Income Now initiative. Please distribute the surveys to career office staff, and ask them to complete it.

    There will also be opportunities for staff to participate in trainings, both in a classroom and online. We encourage all staff to visit the Learning Management System and review the eLearning - "Connecting the Dots - Homelessness and Employment."

    Income Now participants may visit any Workforce Solutions offices for service. Provide employment service as you usually would to any customer.

    If a customer requests financial aid, check TWIST for open service records and provide assistance as appropriate.  We may provide work support, work search support, and education support for both short-term and substantial assistance for Income Now participants.  This includes transportation assistance and other support during the job search.

    For more information, contact our system navigators:

    Lavergne, Thelisa

    Omar Martinez
    Regional Navigator

  • Youth Employment

    Welcome to Youth Employment!

    Here's your spot for everything Youth Employment!  Here you'll find tools and resources to help you prepare our young people for the world-of-work.  And nothing does that like a summer job. The work we do together, collectively as a system, will give Workforce Solutions the privilege to offer thousands of meaningful opportunities to build essential skills a young person needs to get ready for the real world-of-work in the years ahead. We're also helping our young adults of the region gain knowledge of various industries, local business, and potential career paths they can pursue in the near future.

    Is something missing you'd like to see added? Please send an e-mail to:

  • Food Bank


    Food BankMany customers in our region face food insecurity challenges. While some are able to address these challenges through public benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), others still experience gaps in finding adequate food support for themselves and their families. The Houston Food Bank seeks to tackle some of these issues by distributing food to pantries and hunger relief charities throughout the region. Last year, the Houston Food Bank distributed over 74,000,000 nutritious meals!

    At Workforce Solutions, many of our customers are unemployed and face significant hurdles, such as food insecurity, when looking for work or training for a career. As a result, we have partnered with the Houston Food Bank to build awareness about Food Bank services and pantry locations as well as provide food support to eligible customers.

    Special Guidance

    1. Office Visits

    In June of 2016, Food Bank staff began visiting career offices in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties to attend office huddles and meetings to provide Workforce Solutions staff information about Food Bank services, pantry locations, and special opportunities and initiatives.

    We will contact career office managers to develop a schedule for office visits. We are also working with the Food Bank to expand service to Workforce Solutions customers in our other counties, and will notify offices as additional details develop. In the interim, staff members may refer customers to food pantry locations throughout the region.

    2. Food Scholarships

    The Houston Food Bank administers its Food for Change program, which allows select agencies to provide high-dollar food scholarships to their eligible customers. These food scholarships typically equate to 60 pounds of food every two weeks.

    New customers who are enrolling in an education and training service with Workforce Solutions are eligible to receive the food scholarship. Many of our customers begin a training program, but are unable to complete it due to having to work to pay bills or provide food support for their family. By helping to address one of these critical issues, we believe that more customers will have an opportunity to successfully complete their training programs. We are beginning this project with the Southwest and Cypress Station career offices and will work with the Food Bank to expand service to additional offices.

    3. Workforce 101

    Workforce Solutions facilitators will visit the Houston Food Bank periodically to offer Workforce 101 classes to Food Bank staff. These classes are designed to help outside organizations become more familiar with Workforce Solutions service to do a better job of connecting their customers to our system's resources and opportunities. Similarly, facilitators will also conduct onsite job readiness seminars for customers and Food Bank volunteers to help them find a job, keep a job or get a better job. We will work with the regional facilitator team and Food Bank staff to arrange seminar dates and times.



    ThriveAt Workforce Solutions we strive to help customers find a job, keep a job or get a better job. While we have a variety of services to prepare customers for well-paying career opportunities, oftentimes customers settle for an immediate job opportunity. The reality is that many of our customers are in a financial crisis mode, living paycheck to paycheck, and the prospect of getting a job, any job, far outweighs the effort needed to get a good job.

    How do we break the cycle so that more customers find good jobs and experience financial stability? The United Way THRIVE (PDF) initiative helps families earn sufficient income, coupled with responsible financial habits, to meet ordinary expenses and set aside funds for emergencies and future goals. Through United Way THRIVE, families achieve financial stability by focusing on three key strategies: increasing income, building savings and acquiring assets.

    As part of the THRIVE initiative, the Workforce Connector project blends the financial literacy resources of United Way THRIVE agencies with Workforce Solutions to provide a seamless service experience to customers by helping them access training, find employment and build financial stability.

    Additional Details

    Currently, there are ten United Way agencies paired with Workforce Solutions offices to enhance customer access to job opportunities, vocational training and financial resources:  

    Workforce Solutions Office

    THRIVE Partner


    Workfaith Connection


    Volunteers of America

    Cypress Station

    Northwest Assistance Ministries

    East End

    SER - Jobs for Progress


    United Way Waller County


    Wesley Community Center


    Volunteers of America




    United Way Fort Bend
    Family Services


    Family Services
    United Way Bay Area


    Chinese Community Center


    United Way Waller County


    Memorial Assistance Ministries

  • Teacher Externship


    Teacher ExternshipThe Texas Workforce Commission and Workforce Solutions will create partnerships among the workforce, industry, and educators to strengthen the workforce system by connecting academic skills and the workplace.

    Middle school and/or high school teachers and counselors will participate in externships in certain industries and learn how classroom content is applied in the work world. Teachers and counselors will learn about the skill sets required in those industries and can take that knowledge back to students to educate and guide them. The connection between the school and the workplace will help students understand and develop the academic and technical skills they will need to compete for high-demand jobs.

    About the Program

    Workforce Solutions will host a combination of 30 teachers and counselors who will work onsite directly with an employer during the month of June for 4 consecutive days.  They will learn hands-on experience about high-demand occupations within industries such as as-Aviation, Logistics, Information Technology, and Maritime.

    We will also conduct a hybrid externship that will allow 12 teachers to work with 24 students by shadowing them through an internship to see the hands-on experience through the eyes of the student. Each teacher/counselor will put together an overview of what they have learned and share it with their peers.

    School districts we are working with- Houston ISD, Texas City ISD, Pasadena ISD, Spring ISD, Liberty, and Chambers ISD.

  • Texas Industry Partnership


    The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has dedicated funds to address skills gaps and ensure a talent pipeline is available to address regional industry needs.  Private employers or corporate foundations can collaborate with Workforce Solutions to apply for funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) activities that support workforce development for six designated industry clusters.

    About the Initiative:

    The Texas Industry Partnership (TIP) program supports collaborations between local workforce development boards and industry partners through the leveraging of matching contributions of cash or qualifying expenditures for occupational job training. Match funds must support certain activities and focus on six designated industry clusters:

    - Advanced Technologies and Manufacturing

    - Aerospace and Defense

    - Biotechnology and Life Sciences

    - Information technologyTexas Industry Partnership

    - Petroleum Refining and Chemical Products

    - Energy

    Allowable activities include:

    - training

    - mentoring

    - support services

    - skills assessments

    - cluster analysis

    Currently, Workforce Solutions is partnering with Lone Star College, Baker Hughes and BJ services to train 15 students in a Field Service Technician position within the oil and gas industry.  This project will meet the Petroleum Refining and Chemical Products industry need for an educated and prepared workforce; providing the trainees with the essential skills, knowledge, and safety practices needed for entry-level positions.

  • Career Education Specialists


    Career Education Specialists

    Career Education Specialists will help ensure students are better prepared and aware of cost-effective ways to complete valuable educational credentials including industry-recognized certifications, post-secondary certificates, associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees, and master’s-level or doctoral degrees. They will provide access to information regarding careers, educational requirements for jobs, access to financial assistance, and exposure to employers and jobs. We expect to directly interact with a minimum of 3,000 students and outreach a minimum of 30,000 students each year. We also expect to reach a minimum of 15,000 students annually at the indirect schools.

    Direct Schools

    El Campo ISD: El Campo High School, El Campo Middle School
    Houston ISD: Northside High School, McReynolds Middle School
    Pasadena ISD: South Houston High School, South Houston Intermediate School
    Spring ISD: Westfield High School, Bammel Middle School
    Wharton ISD: Wharton High School, Wharton Middle School

    Indirect Schools

    Houston ISD: Houston MSTC, Wheatly, Furr, Kashmere, North Forest, Washington, Waltrip, Burbank, Henry, Key, Forest Brook, Fonville, Marshall, McWilliams

    Pasadena ISD: Dobie, Pasadena, Pasadena Memorial, Sam Rayburn, Tegler Career Center, Lewis Career and Technical, Bondy, Jackson, Miller, Park View, Queens, San Jacinto, Southmore

    Spring ISD: Dekaney, Spring, Spring Early College Academy, Wunsche, Richey Academy, Bailey, Claughton, Dueitt, Roberson, Spring Leadership Academy, Springwoods Village, Twin Creeks, Wells

  • Student HireAbility Navigators


    The Student HireAbility Navigator grant is a three-year project that began in July 2018. This grant provides funding for two Student HireAbility Navigators who serve as resources in the Gulf Coast Region to support, expand, and enhance the provision of pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities who are in the early phases of preparing for transition to postsecondary education and employment.

    EligibilityStudent HireAbility Navigators

    Any student between the ages of 14-22, enrolled in a recognized educational program, with documentation supporting a disability.

  • Job Coach Pilot


    Job Coach Pilot

    Workforce Solutions will assist up to 40 individuals by providing a job coach in conjunction with work-based learning and/or on the job training. The goal of the pilot is to assist these individuals with valuable work experience, exposure to work and connect them to other resources that can lead to long term sustainable employment. This pilot will provide a basis for serving individuals with different types of abilities utilizing standard operating processes and allow us to build staff capacity in serving people with disabilities. We will be able to build a framework for continued support that leads to employment.

    Potential participants may be referred by Vocational Rehabilitation Services, members of the Employment Roundtable and other agencies that are aware of the individual’s need for additional supports.

  • Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Women


    Entrepreneur Bootcamp for WomenWorkforce Solutions will host an entrepreneurial boot camp focused on women who are or aspire to be business owners.

    Workforce Solutions will coordinate and collaborate with multiple community partners to ensure we are leveraging funds to serve as many entrepreneurs as possible.

  • Job Skills Initiative

    The Youth Job Skills Initiative focuses on supporting youth without or may be at risk of not attaining a secondary credential. The goal is to assist youth in their completion of a secondary credential and also provide a seamless connection to work based learning opportunities in the following sectors:

    - Construction

    - Healthcare

    - Information Technology

  • Reentry Network Initiative

    Workforce Solutions will work with the City of Houston – Houston Health Department in their Community Re-Entry Network program working primarily with adults. The mission of the Community Re-Entry Network is to work in partnership with the community to assess, plan, and implement effective strategies to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and successfully assist and support re-entry individuals in their transition in becoming productive, contributing members of the Houston community.

    Workforce Solutions will expand the partnership by securing work experience sites for 50 individuals with wages up to $14.00 hourly for up to 10 weeks immediately upon return to the community. We will also make sure the individuals are aware of available training to support their efforts in finding employment. Services provided within this project are financial aid/support service needed to assist the individuals with clothing, transportation, training and certification/licenses.

  • Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Youth

    Workforce Solutions will host an entrepreneurial boot camp focused on Youth 16 to 24 years old from the Gulf Coast Region that is or aspire to be business owners.

    The Boot Camp will be scheduled to last a minimum of seven hours and will include both in-person and virtual components. The agenda will include a guest speaker, connections to community resources, and ongoing support. The curriculum will include at a minimum business creation, business plans, ownership, support, and expansion.

    Workforce Solutions will coordinate and collaborate with multiple community partners to ensure we are leveraging funds to serve as many entrepreneurs as possible.

  • Diversion Opportunity for Youth

    Workforce Solutions provides a pre-plea opportunity during the pre-trial stage of the criminal justice process for young adult offenders to participate in a restorative program decreasing the jail population. These young adults are over represented in the criminal justice system and an increasing number of disengaged young people become adults suffering from a lifetime of low levels of education, chronic unemployment, recidivism and long-term incarceration. This collaborative pilot project seeks to address a major barrier to social and economic inclusion by diverting offenders from jail to opportunities for paid work experience, career education, and job training.

    Working cooperatively with Harris County Court System and the City's My Brother's Keeper initiative this project is designed to serve 50 young adults up to ten weeks @ 40 hours a week. The target population would include individuals who have scored low risk on the pre-trial assessment who are unable to make bond on low level felony offenses. The project concentrates on restorative justice principals emphasizing school attendance, and/or employment and employment related services as the offender restores him/herself and becomes a productive member of the community.

  • The Way Home - Jobs

    The Way HomeThe mission of this initiative is to work in partnership with the food bank and homeless serving organizations to quickly re-house homeless individuals and families. Our goal is to mitigate the negative effects of individuals experiencing hunger and homelessness by offering services to help them secure career opportunities that will provide livable wages to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

    We plan to place participants in work experiences for ten weeks, working up to 30 hours weekly. Additionally, we will ensure these individuals are aware of available training to support their efforts in finding unsubsidized employment.  We further propose to provide financial aid and support services needed to assist homeless individuals with clothing, transportation, housing, industry recognized certifications and professional licenses to prepare them for lasting careers.

  • Retail Initiative - Paths for Texas

    PATHS for Texas aims not only to upskill retails workers but also to provide an opportunity for individuals to explore a career transition to allied health.

    PATHS for Texas is a comprehensive strategy that addresses the middle skills gap within the retail industry through:

    * Providing upskilling opportunities for retail employees

    * Highlighting retail industry transferable skills and leveraging them to impact the Allied Health industry

    * Bringing together Retail Sector employer partners to responsively address their specific workforce needs that have a direct impact on the competitiveness and bottom line.