Lavena models one of her handcrafted leather handbags (photo credit: Anita Hodges for
The LA:RISE program, in partnership with the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC), helped give participant Lavena the opportunity to build her confidence and marketing skills and provide a venue to sell her handcrafted leather bags, Vena Vena Handbags.

Prior to joining LA:RISE, Lavena struggled with housing and re-entering the workforce. Through LA:RISE, Lavena was able to join the transitional employment program at the DWC, where she was able to earn a steady paycheck. She said she appreciates the wrap around support services she receives from the DWC and LA:RISE, while also learning workplace soft skills to build her professionalism.

Since joining LA:RISE, her handbag line has expanded, and her bags are now officially sold online and at the MADE by DWC brick and mortar stores in Downtown Los Angeles. Lavena’s bags were also featured at a recent event at The Main Museum of Los Angeles in November 2018.

LA:RISE – A social enterprise solution to help join the workforce

EWDD is a leadership team partner of LA:RISE, an innovative, collaborative partnership that unites the City and County of Los Angeles’ Workforce Development System (WDS) with non-profit social enterprises and for-profit employers to help men and women with high barriers to employment get good jobs and stay employed. The City’s WorkSource Centers and LA:RISE prioritize individuals recently released from prison, the unsheltered or those at risk of homelessness and youth ages 18-24 who are neither in school or working. After working in a transitional job at a social enterprise and leveraging training and services from the WorkSource Center, LA:RISE participants are placed at jobs in the private sector, in public-sector jobs in the City of LA, or in vocational training programs.

In the week of January 21, EWDD Updates shares two LA:RISE success stories. In addition to Lavena’s story above, Joshua received the support and the second chance he needed after struggling with family and a history of homelessness.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of January 21, 2019. Read this issue and more.