Careers for a Cause

Smiling students at graduation

Your Life Experience Can Help Others

Apply Today

You may have been in difficult situations over the course of your life, such as experiencing homelessness, incarceration, mental health challenges, and substance use. And, it may have made it difficult to find work.

Yet, social service agencies have found people with these lived life-experiences have valuable attributes for working with clients who are currently experiencing homelessness. Because of this, LASC offers Careers for a Cause, an innovative and enterprising pre-employment training program for those who have had these lived life-experiences and are looking for entry-level positions in the homeless services sector.

By offering an 8-week cohort program that builds soft skills and has supportive case management while you're in the program, Careers for a Cause can prepare you to work in this field. This program will teach you fundamental information about the nature of the work you will be doing. It will take you through a detailed orientation of the homeless services network, called the Coordinated Entry System.

You will also learn about the principles that agencies follow when working with clients using the "housing-first, trauma-informed care, harm reduction, client-centered" approach. All of this will benefit you by giving you critical knowledge your future employer will not need to train you on, saving them time and money and giving you a leg up on the competition. This program has already played a critical role in increasing social service workers to those experiencing homelessness. It is also an extremely in-demand career that is as rewarding as it is difficult. Your life experiences can help change the lives of so many here in L.A. and beyond.


Students that are interested in applying must first watch our Information Session Video. Then they apply online through our online google application by the scheduled deadline for that cohort. After applying the applicants will be notified if they have been selected for an interview.

After interviewing all the chosen applicants, the C4C Interview Committee decides on approximately 50 Finalists. Those Finalists will be invited to attend the Mandatory Zoom Orientation. From there students will be asked to apply to LASC, if they do not have a current ID number and 35 individuals will be enrolled in the three noncredit courses aligned with the program. 

  • Los Angeles Southwest College
  • Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS)
  • Southern California Health & Rehabilitation Program (SCHARPP)
  • St. Joseph Center
  • America's Job Center of California (AJCC)
  • Mark Riddley Thomas

Careers for a Cause is an 8 week pre-employment training program to prepare South L.A. residents to compete for one  of the many jobs available in the social services and homeless services sector. 

Careers for a Cause is an introduction to social service work for those that have lived experience in homelessness, mental health, justice involvement and those that have a true passion to help others.

The program is based on two existing non-credit courses at LA Southwest College (LASC). The courses are free of charge to students. The content in the courses is infused with subject matter related to the homeless service industry provided by professionals from LA-based homeless service agencies in the form of guest lectures, workshops, resume and interview coaching, agency visits or overviews.

Careers for a Cause Job training program is both collaborative across sectors and innovative. This is a program that fosters individual development through wrap-around services, career based training, job shadowing, employability skills, and career development and so much more. Students in the C4C learn basic soft skills, customer service techniques, interpersonal communication, effective listening, motivational interviewing, empathic responses, basic intervention methods in Substance Use Disorder, Suicidality, Mental Health Disorder and effective engagement and resource allocation to the homeless population. Additionally, students are taught resume writing, job scouting, suitability, interview preparation, and interviewing skills. Students are taught to maximize their lived experience as a marketable tool in obtaining jobs as well as utilizing their educational background specific to the population they wish to serve

This is a program that is designed to support at-risk adults with specific training in obtaining employment in the social services sector, specifically the homeless sector jobs in Los Angeles County. This program was launched in Fall 2019 as a pilot program with 25 adult students; 23 students graduated from the program. Our second cohort started in Fall 2020 with 35 students in a live virtual format utilizing Zoom and Canvas to comply with safety standards for the global pandemic.