On Monday, the San Diego Workforce Partnership announced it had received a $400,000 grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation to create opportunities for jobs in healthcare and behavioral health.
The nonprofit organization, which operates job-seeking programs, said the money is needed to further grow the health care industry. The first allocation of the grant funds will be utilized for substance use disorder counselor training that will have free tuition for applicants.
It will be offered online through the Sober College School of Addiction Studies.
The goal is to help San Diego county residents find long-term jobs, learn new skills, and begin a career in behavioral health. Increasing accessibility to programs by making them free would provide an opportunity to underserved communities such as people of color, women, and English-language learners, according to the partnership.
The partnership will initiate outreach efforts to these communities for applicants.
Although participants will have approved behavioral health credentialing, there are registration and certification fees.
Participants are required to be 18 years of age or older, living in San Diego County, and being vaccinated for COVID-19.
Substance abuse and overdoses have been on the rise in recent years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were over 100,000 overdoses from April 2020 to April 2021.
San Diego County authorities announced there has been a 16.7 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in 2021 over the previous year caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin.
Last year, there was a total of 1,138 people died of a drug overdose in San Diego County, according to the presented data. Authorities say that figure is still a preliminary pending confirmation that is subject to change as investigations are closed.
Those interested in the substance abuse program can apply online at Workforce.org/Sudcounselor.