LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Tuesday, June 27, the U.S. Department of Labor announced over $72M to enhance employment opportunities for justice-involved individuals. $32M was awarded to 23 community based organizations across the United States, including the Little Rock Workforce Development Board, which was awarded $1.2M to develop the “Rock City Reentry Project.”
Mayor Mark Stodola highlighted the Rock City Reentry Project as part of the City’s Little Rock for Life campaign that was announced during a press conference on July 20, 2017.
Arkansas has one of the fastest growing prison populations in the country, largely due to its high rate of recidivism. The Rock City Reentry Project represents a significant response to this problem in our state: the creation of a dynamic, robust, and tightly coordinated network of services and training sites to equip 150 adults with the skills, resources, and confidence to obtain long-term, meaningful employment and gain stability in the free world.
Service Delivery Hubs
Eligible applicants will have exited a correctional facility within 180 days of enrollment, or will be on active community supervision. Participants will receive intensive case management, mentoring, mental health and substance abuse counseling to develop positive decision making skills. Service hubs at the Our House Career Center, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, and the Little Rock Workforce Center will provide participants rigorous class offerings in areas of education, soft-skills training, health and wellness, and financial empowerment. The Center for Arkansas Legal Services will provide additional support to clients experiencing legal barriers, and Mulligan Services, Inc. will assist with recruitment and intervention groups for the highest-risk participants.
Dobie Brown is a client of the existing Our House Reentry Program, and is thriving at his job with Interstate Signways out at the Little Rock Port Authority. “You can break the chain by keeping programs like this alive and making them grow. A lot of people just need a chance after they mess up and do their time and come home. You just need a chance.”
Occupational Training & Employment Placement
Through partnerships with Pulaski Technical College, the Arkansas Construction Education Foundation, Arkansas Food Jobs and apprenticeship sites, participants of the Rock City Reentry Project will complete paid training programs that lead to careers in a variety of on-demand workforce sectors.
Buy-in from the local business community will be key to the success of the program, as employers with Fair Chance hiring policies can lead the way in facilitating long-term successes for returning citizens.
Karen Mims, the HR Manager at Interstate Signways, has been an advocate for giving people a fair chance to work. “I think it’s important that employers keep an open mind and consider hiring with alternative staffing sources. My personal experience has included candidates that make the extra effort to overcome their circumstances by utilizing services provided by programs and do so with gratitude for the opportunity.”
Employers interested in collaborating with the Rock City Reentry Project to provide on the job training or full-time employment opportunities to graduates of the program are encouraged to contact Our House Reentry Program Coordinator Rachael Borné at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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