CalFresh Employment & Training Funds

Opportunities for Social Enterprises to Leverage CalFresh Employment & Training Funds


About CalFresh Employment & Training

CalFresh Employment & Training (CFET) is an uncapped, sustainable federal funding source that supports workforce development and training for low-income clients. As a highly flexible program, CFET can be pooled with other funds to pay for new or expanded services to new or existing clients.

Examples of services that can be funded through CFET include:

  • Case management
  • Unpaid on-the-job training
  • Training in basic English or math skills, GED prep, and ESL
  • Vocational training
  • Career counseling and workshops
  • Peer mentoring
  • Job readiness and soft skills training
  • Resume writing and interview preparation
  • Job search
  • Job retention

Federal funding will also partially cover client costs for participating in CFET services, such as transportation to and from the site, child care, textbooks, uniforms, TB tests, emergency housing and dental care.

To be eligible for CFET, clients must be enrolled in CalFresh and not receiving CalWORKs. Clients with a gross income of no more than 200% of federal poverty level and a social security number (including many immigrants without citizenship) are generally eligible for CalFresh.  The opportunity to receive CFET benefits can incentivize clients to apply for CalFresh.


CFET Funding

CFET is a reimbursement program that funds all costs described in an approved plan as long as they are properly budgeted, documented and invoiced.  A cash advance may be available to meet cash flow needs.

CFET has a strict match requirement, in which match funds are tracked and audited just as federal dollars are.  All match dollars must be spent on allowable services to eligible clients.  Match funding sources must be non-federal (with the exception of CDBG and Indian Tribal Government funds) and not already used to match federal funds.  Examples of allowable match sources include earned revenue, philanthropic funds, and State Assembly Bill 109 re-entry funds.

Ideally, CFET providers should have at least $150,000 annually in match dollars to be able to fund administrative requirements and a minimum level of new services.  Match dollars can match an equivalent amount in federal funds. For example, a program with $400,000 in match dollars can spend an additional $400,000 in federal funds.


CFET Administration

The CFET program is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, and is administered by both the California Department of Social Services and participating counties.  Each county has a choice about whether to offer, and with whom to partner on, a CFET program.

Initially conceived as a work requirement for Food Stamp (CalFresh) recipients in 1985, CFET remains a significantly underutilized program.  More than half of California counties offer a CFET program, but most are very limited in size and scope.  This pattern is beginning to change.  Over the past decade, social enterprises (SEs), community-based organizations, and community colleges in a number of California counties have leveraged millions of CFET dollars for quality programs.

REDF is generating statewide interest in CFET and helping a select group of social enterprises (SEs) to implement CFET, including:

  • Assessing interest and feasibility in leveraging CFET funds
  • Offering training and technical assistance for start-up and implementation
  • Providing forms and materials to support implementation

A CFET program requires a significant investment of organizational time in planning, which may be partially funded by CFET after some preliminary groundwork and government approvals.  Substantial administrative tasks during implementation may be fully funded through CFET dollars.

Over the long-term, participation in CFET can help social enterprises to diversify funding, expand capacity, and support clients more effectively through services defined by the SE.


Prepared for REDFworkshop by Aimee Chitayat, Principal of AC Strategic Solutions,

Related Content

2017-12-19 12:00:47



Accessing Federal Funds

Overview of available funding for social enterprises, how to identify opportunities, and key considerations before applying.

Read More >

2018-01-12 11:31:14

Learning guide

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

WIOA is the largest source of federal funding for workforce development activities in the United States. Learn about WIOA and how social enterprises can benefit.

Read learning guide >

2018-01-30 07:55:50


National Policy Recommendations

Five policy recommendations that create incentives and invest resources to grow social enterprises to employ tens of thousands of Americans each year.

Read Full article >