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Daeshawn Thomas – Carving a New Path

Daeshawn has experienced more challenges at age 21 than many of us have experienced in two or three times as many years – yet he is determined to overcome them and chart a new path. Daeshawn is one of the beneficiaries of the Returning Citizens Stimulus (RCS)* program being overseen nationally by the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). BOSS is partnering with CEO to distribute Returning Citizen Stimulus funds locally and provide support to recipients.

“There were opportunities here. This is the place to be if you wanna do right.”

Tall and soft spoken, Daeshawn was referred to the BOSS Career Training and Employment Center (CTEC) after being released from prison by both his cousin, who knew about the program, and his Probation Officer. His first impression was that this was the right place to be. “It was a very helpful environment,” he says. “There were opportunities here. This is the place to be if you wanna do right.”

Since entering the program, Daeshawn completed the virtual job readiness curriculum (weekly classes totaling 100 hours), and is now participating in 400 hours of transitional work – working the front desk at CTEC to gain on-the-job experience and new skills in customer service and office management, and earn income.

The RSC funds Daeshawn received were incredibly helpful helping him get on his feet while working to find a job – funds helped him pay his rent, put food on the table, and purchase a used vehicle.

His long-term goal is to get into real estate as a career, and he’s considering different certification programs available through CTEC partner Peralta Community College District. He has past experience in office work and retail, and right now he’s focused on building his resume – “building a solid foundation,” he calls it.

“You can keep doing what you were doing, with the same problems. Or do something different, and get to a better place.”

He’s found that it’s not easy, being consistent and coming to work day after day, no matter what’s going on in your personal life.

“It can get hard,” he says. “Especially dealing with all the different personalities. But I’m a people person, I like to help people.”

Despite the challenges, he knows that it’s worth it to persevere, and he keeps showing up. Asked what he would tell others in the same situation, he says you just need to explain the choice people have.

“You can keep doing what you were doing, with the same problems. Or do something different, and get to a better place,” he says. “I was in your shoes, and I know it’s possible.”


To talk to Daeshawn about a job in your company or connect other job seekers with training or work opportunities, contact CTEC at 510-844-8221. Donate now to support CTEC and other BOSS programs that fight poverty and inequity.


*The federal Returning Citizens Stimulus (RCS) program is designed to address the overwhelming racial disparities impacting the health and economic mobility of people coming home from prison during the COVID-19 pandemic. With several states and cities accelerating releases from prison systems where Black and Latino Americans are overrepresented, RCS provides essential resources to individuals that need unprecedented support returning home from incarceration during a contracting job market. With a $23+ million investment from the Justice and Mobility Fund, a collaboration launched by The Ford Foundation and Blue Meridian Partners with support from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, RCS is disbursing up to $2,750 in cash assistance (through a contact-less paycard system) to individuals recently released from incarceration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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