Brooklyn-based Refoundry trains ex-offenders to create home furnishings out of discarded materials

Refoundry

Refoundry participant Dexter, nurse; Refoundry entreprenuers Gene, Manigo/Kambui Custom Craft, and James L Eleby Jr., Eleby Designs. (Photo by Christina Maida.)

Although there are other programs that teach formerly incarcerated individuals entrepreneurial skills, Refoundry takes a slightly different approach. This Brooklyn-based not-for-profit has trained its pilot project participants to create home furnishings out of discarded materials and learn how to sell them.

Although they may have felt discarded by society, participants become confident that they, like the furniture they create, have value and purpose.

“Everybody’s got creativity, and working with our hands is one of the things that define us as human beings. Building things is in our DNA,” says Tommy Safian, the organization’s co-founder and executive director.

“When participants are giving discarded material new value they feel like they’re giving themselves new value as well. It’s very personal. When they send these things out into the world and people who may have formerly looked down on them purchase and bring them into their homes, it makes our participants feel valued.”

Formerly incarcerated individuals display incredible talent

“We’re providing opportunities. A lot of people coming out of prison have an incredible amount of talent,” he says. And Refoundry’s pilot project has taken five of those people, taught them woodworking and entrepreneurial skills.

It may be a not-for-profit, but Safian, who previously had a business collecting furniture from the trash in L.A., refurbishing and selling it, runs Refoundry like a business. He has high expectations of the participants and funnels the profits made from the furniture sold by them back into their training.

Safian doesn’t recruit participants straight out of prison but rather finds those who are already being served by reentry organizations and set up in programs, including the anger management and addiction counseling programs required by the state of New York.

“We’re looking for people who are ambitious, who understand their role, who are willing to learn and who take personal and professional responsibility,” he says.

For the first nine months participants learn how to create furniture from discarded materials and are taught the customer service and entrepreneurial skills needed to sell the pieces they create at the weekly Brooklyn Flea (flea market).

Once trained, participants may go out and start their own business, which four of those in the organization’s pilot project have already done.

Building community

Safian tells a story that exemplifies what Refoundry is trying to achieve. One participant who sold a table to a couple at the flea market had been in prison for 30 years for murder. When he delivered the piece, the customers invited him and his wife to dinner to christen the table.

“Our model is designed to make those types of connections and open up the space so that people can meet on common ground and recognize each other as individuals,” he says.

“In our program the transaction happens hand-to-hand and face-to-face. People have stereotypical and denigrating opinions of each other, but within the space of that transaction, they develop empathy, understanding and common values, and these develop community.”

Refoundry plans expansion

Refoundry now takes up a unit at the Brooklyn Navy Yard but plans to expand by adding more units and possible satellite locations. Safian also said that organizations in 12 states are interested in bringing the model to their communities.

The organization is currently establishing a campus at the Navy Yard, which is expected be ready by the end of the year. It will have wrap around services and a classroom. Columbia University’s school of business will teach financial literacy, the School of Visual Arts will teach design, and Pratt Institute will teach web design. Community partner Shake Shack will teach customer service and offer participants short-term “Internships” at one of its outlets.

Because he realizes that not everyone has the skills or desire to run their own business, Safian also plans to train people in bookkeeping and sales and marketing so that they can be placed in jobs in Refoundry’s partner organizations. These skills will also help those who launch their own enterprises.

Embrace your story

Whether Refoundry participants start their own business or work for someone else, however, Safian urges them to share their story.

“We encourage our participants to embrace their story and use that in marketing their pieces. There’s a huge amount of talent in New York, and what distinguishes them is the story that they tell,” he says

“Embracing your story with a narrative that’s positive for them and has meaning for others is what’s going to help those coming out of prison find a job.”

 

Denver area teacher creates TattooEmergency911 mobile tattoo removal business to benefit juvenile offenders

TattooEmergency911Jesus Bujanda has created TattooEmergency911, a mobile tattoo removal business that removes unwanted tattoos from juvenile offenders. It’s a model that others may wish to follow, and those who do may eventually be able to purchase a mobile clinic from him.

Bujanda, a Denver area resident and automotive technology high school teacher, was inspired by a nephew who had recently been released from prison and had his tattoos removed.

They had discussed the idea of starting a tattoo removal business at a family Thanksgiving dinner. By New Year’s, Bujanda’s wife had come up with the idea of using an ambulance which would be turned into a clinic and his 8-year-old daughter had come up with the name. Six months later he was in school learning how to be a laser tattoo removal technician.

That was about 18 months ago. Bujanda bought an ambulance, outfitted it so he could perform tattoo removal procedures and began searching for clients. He eventually got a contract with an agency that works with the state of Colorado and now does tattoo removals at three prisons and four transitional living facilities that cater to juvenile offenders. And it’s the youth he’s determined to help.

“A lot of kids make a lot of horrible choices,” he said. “I’ve been working with this population for the last 20 years, and I feel like I’ve kind of found my niche.”

Because he’s still teaching full time, Bujanda does treatments in the evenings and on weekends.

“I have the majority of the state for juveniles,” he says. “As these kids get out, part of their parole is to take their tattoos off. They’re trying to find a job, but they can’t find a job with tattoos on their face. If they do the tattoo removal six months to a year ahead of time, it’s better.” And that’s what Bujanda is trying to do – take off tattoos before they leave prison.

Although he would like to “retire” to the tattoo removal business full time, that may take a while. His wife has opened a brick-and-mortar location that provides aesthetic and laser services, while he continues to teach.

“I don’t have enough clients to retire yet,” Bujanda says, but is hoping to get them by expanding his business to California. He’s establishing residency in Bakersfield and working with the Small Business Development Center there to bring his mobile tattoo services to the area.

He’s also taking classes on how to create proposals for federal funding and would like to work within the federal prison system as well.

In addition, Bujanda plans to create mobile tattoo units as part of his business and is already communicating with someone in Great Britain who is interested in having one designed.

“I’ll have all the software put in, the lasers installed and the rig completely ready to go,” he says.

“It is very difficult. I almost didn’t survive my first year. If you had to pay to build a rig like mine it would be super expensive. I was able to do 95% of the work myself.”

Having him provide the vehicle could save someone a lot of time, money and stress, Bujanda says. And it would be fully outfitted and ready to use.

For those who may want to put together their own rig, however, Bujanda says it will take a tremendous amount of research. And then things don’t always work out.

It’s possible to buy a retired ambulance with relatively low mileage. “Some ambulances from rural areas aren’t used that much, so they might retire them at 30,000 miles or up to 100,000 miles, and they’re very well maintained,” he says.

You may find a dealer for one of these used ambulances by searching online for “used ambulance dealers.” There are also companies that will design and produce custom-ordered vehicles for medical uses. One mobile tattoo unit used Quality Vans of Tempe, Ariz., for example. Other similarly specialty vehicles producers can be located by searching the member’s directory of NTEA, The Association for the Work Truck Industry.

And nonprofits might want to team up with their county health department or other local medical organization, if it is one of the clinics that operates a mobile health program. There are an estimated 2,000 of these programs across the U.S. Mobile Health Map offers details on 700 of them.

Meanwhile, when it comes to equipment Bujanda recommends buying a laser device from a company that has a technician in town, or at least close by, if possible. That way if something goes wrong you won’t have to fly someone in to fix it.

The interior was one of his biggest challenges, mainly because the man who he hired to do it got sick, so Bujanda had to learn how to do the work, including the electricity, himself.

And he purchased the wrong flooring. “It looked really nice when I first put it in, but what looks good in a doctor’s office takes a lot of maintenance,” he says.

But in the end, he has his rig. “You really have to sit down and understand what you’re doing. It’s all trial and error.”

 

Jails to Jobs creates a new job search training toolkit for those who want to help ex-offenders find employment

Job Search Training ToolkitWorking with people about to leave prison or those in reentry who are trying to find jobs? Nonprofit Jails to Jobs, Inc. has a brand new resource to help you do that more effectively.

Its new Jails to Jobs: Job Search Training Toolkit is designed to give people who present job search workshops in jails and prisons, and job developers who work with previously incarcerated individuals the resource they need. And it’s all here and ready to go.

The kit includes 20 copies of an all-inclusive job search handbook, Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed, published by the organization. It also includes a 73-slide PowerPoint presentation, which was developed as the result of delivering workshops to more than 3,000 soon-to-be-released men and women and is based on the book. The presentation can be used to conduct a two- to three-hour workshop in one or multiple sittings, making it easier to schedule.

All presenters need to do is familiarize themselves with the material in the book, as well as the PowerPoint slides, and they’re ready to offer the workshop. Corresponding page numbers from the job search handbook are listed on slides making it easier for both presenter and participants to use slides along with the book. Optional slides can be added, or existing slides edited, to include local resources and other unique details furthering the value of the workshop.

Participants will receive a copy of the handbook that they can read and study further and use as a guide through the job search process to find and land a job and stay out of prison.

The PowerPoint presentation and the book offer advice, instructions and exercises to teach participants just about everything they need to do to conduct a job search.

Why order a job search training toolkit? Here are 25 reasons!
Putting the tools together

Workshop participants will learn how to:

  • Record an effective voice-mail message, standout and be remembered.
  • Create a unique card that may work better than a resume.
  • Prepare an elevator pitch, helping to make a very favorable first impression.
  • Put together a master application and resume, saving time and increasing productivity in their search.
  • Develop a targeted list of potential employers who they can contact and visit.
Once they begin their search

They’ll learn how to:

  • Use a proven technique, integrating the telephone and email for the best job search success results.
  • Find the person who has the power to extend a job offer.
  • Just walk into places of employment and know what to tell the hiring managers that will increase their chances of getting a job offer.
  • Create and use a circle of contacts chart to identify people who can help them in their job search including offering job leads.
  • Make their parole officer a part of their network.
  • Carry out an informational interview and gain inside knowledge.
Dealing effectively with their record

They’ll learn how to:

  • Create a convincing argument that hiring previously incarcerated individuals increases an employers’ talent pool and makes economic sense.
  • Encourage a job offer by knowing how and when to present hiring incentives that employers can take advantage of to benefit their bottom line.
  • Create a turnaround talk and package to convince employers that they have changed.
  • Highlight useful work skills developed in prison, helping to make the prison experience a strength rather than a negative.
  • Deal with their record on the job application form and increase the likelihood of being hired.
  • Understand and utilize two of the most effective job search methods that work for ex-offenders.
Resources and things they may not have thought of

They’ll learn how to:

  • Integrate volunteering into their efforts as a method to increase possible job leads and offers.
  • Use a temp employment agency as a stepping stone to full time regular work. Includes a list of 12 agencies we’ve heard good things about.
  • Employ unorthodox methods to get the attention of hiring managers.
  • Find free interview clothing and work attire.
  • Find free or low-cost tattoo removal programs to get visible anti-social or gang-related job stopping tattoos taken off.
  • Take advantage of job training and apprenticeship programs.
  • Implement 10 key tips from surveyed employers that will make ex-offenders more marketable.

The cost of the training toolkit is $395 and includes shipping within the continental United States. Additional copies of the book are available at a discounted rate of $12 each. We invite you to take a look at our book reviews on Amazon and email us with any questions and to place your order.

 

 

 

Gatekeepers founder Bill Gaertner launches mentoring program for ex-offender job seekers

Bill Gaertner

Bill Gaertner

Bill Gaertner, founder and director of Gatekeepers in Hagerstown Md., will soon launch a mentoring program that recruits members of the local faith community to work with citizens returning to the area from jails and prisons.

A former basketball coach at Norwich University and University of Connecticut, Gaertner was incarcerated late in life.

“I went into prison at the age of 61 for domestic violence and being an alcoholic. I imploded. While I was there I relied on all the tools of coaching and playing college athletics to get through, and then I got a chance to start a new life here,” he says.

When released, Gaertner committed his life to helping others who, like him, had spent time behind bars. He does this through his organization, Gatekeepers, whose stated mission is to motivate, empower and encourage ex-offenders. The organization achieves this through its Job Readiness Training Program, which is based on what Gaertner calls the “business of living.”

“We failed the business of living by going into the penal system,” he says. “Each person has the opportunity to start their own life business. Every day we look at our lives educationally, occupationally and personally. Every day we have to get smarter, get better at our jobs and be better people.”

In the program, participants are taught civics, speaking skills and anger management. They can join the Gatekeepers job club, which works with employers, parole and probation, and social service agencies. Over the past 2-1/2 years, 80 to 90 men have gotten starter jobs as a result.

Gatekeepers expands its I Got a Job Club

The next step is in the works. The I Got a Job Club, which has been a pilot project with three reentering citizens, will expand into a full-fledged program in March.

Gaertner plans to launch with eight to 12 people in reentry who have already gotten entry-level work. For the most part they’re pre-selected by Kairos Prison Ministry from the facilities in which it works.

“We get these guys identified while they’re still in prison. They’re being mentored by Kairos. We give them the initial services. But then they fall off the grid. They can keep their job for a while but they can’t stay straight. These people need coaches. They need people in their lives or it doesn’t work,” Gaertner says.

Those coaches will be volunteers from the faith-based community and from every walk of life, including some company owners.

They will meet together on alternate Saturday mornings at a local church. The two-hour sessions will begin with an explanation of the business of living concept, and individuals will give updates on where they are since they’ve gotten a job. After that introduction an expert will talk to them about a different subject each meeting, and then the group will break up for one-on-one or two-one-one mentoring.

Mentors are disciples, good listeners and friends

“I like to call it coaching. We say you’ve got a life coach,” Gaertner says. “I get them ready for mentoring (coaching). A mentor is a disciple, a good listener and a friend. He’s not going to give you legal advice. He’s not going to give you cash.”

The mentors are trained using a 20-page manual outlining their responsibilities and duties. Gaertner says that it’s almost like a 12-step program with a sponsor, which he refers to as an accountability partner.

Although starting small, he hopes to build the program to help meet the challenges that those returning to his county face. “In this detention center here in Hagerstown, there are 370 inmates and a 70% recidivism rate,” he says.

“There are a lot of good programs in the prisons but when they leave they leave all that behind.”

Gaertner and Gatekeepers are working hard to ensure that at least some of those leaving prison won’t themselves be left behind, as they learn to engage in the business of life.

 

Root & Rebound publishes toolkit to enlighten employers on the value of hiring ex-offenders

Root & ReboundOakland, Calif.-based nonprofit Root & Rebound has published the California Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring Toolkit. This 28-page toolkit is not just an exceptional resource for companies and organizations that are committed to – or considering – hiring those with criminal records. It can also be used by jobseekers from that population as a persuasive tool to enlighten potential employers on the considerations and benefits they would gain from hiring them.

Although it may be hard to believe, nearly one out of three Americans has a criminal record. As the economy continues to grow and demand for additional workers steadily rises, it will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to ignore that segment of the population.

In fact, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in 2014 between 1.7 and 1.9 million U.S. workers weren’t hired because they had criminal records. This resulted in an estimated loss of $78 to $87 billion in annual gross domestic product.

Hiring fair chance employees makes economic sense

Hiring those with criminal records makes economic sense both in the big picture and for companies themselves, but most employers still need to be convinced.

More than 40 large corporations and nearly 250 small- and medium-sized businesses, however, have already taken the Fair Chance Business Pledge created by the Obama White House in late 2015. These businesses have promised to give people with criminal records, including those who have been incarcerated, a fair chance at employment. We suggest you review these businesses that have taken the pledge to see if there are any you might want to consider adding to your list of 100 employers to pursue.

While this is a beginning and brings attention to the issue, it’s crucial that more companies become committed to hiring second-chance employees. And that’s where Root & Rebound’s toolkit comes in.

Toolkit provides extensive info for all employers

Although it’s geared toward California employers, much of the advice and most of the action steps it recommends can be useful to employers no matter which state they operate within.

The California Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring Toolkit covers:

  • The rewards of hiring fair chance workers.
  • The best practices for onboarding and training fair chance workers.
  • How to choose a reliable background check company.
  • Legal compliance and minimizing risks involved.
Giving copy of Toolkit to the hiring manager shows initiative and having their best interests in mind.

As you interview for jobs, along with your turnaround packet you may want to print out and provide the hiring manager with a copy of the toolkit to offer them information on the additional benefits that they might receive by hiring you and what steps they need to take to do so. If you live in California, this toolkit covers all the basics that an employer needs to know. If you live in another state, check with your local American Job Center to ask for help in adding relevant state-related information.

Benefits of hiring fair chance workers

The toolkit includes evidence that fair chance employees can benefit a company or organization by highlighting:

  • Case studies of companies that have hired second-chance employees with great success. For example, Johns Hopkins Health System & Hospital, Dave’s Killer Bread and Butterball Farms all have hired a substantial number of employees with criminal records and found that their turnover rate is lower than that of those without records.
  • Testimonials from executives of companies that have been actively hiring fair chance employees for many years.

Root & Rebound’s California Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring Toolkit is very well put together and an excellent resource for both employers and job seekers alike.

 

Determining the best final question to wrap up an interview

interview

Brad Drevno

In job interviews, the questions that you ask the interviewers may be as important, if not more so, as the questions they ask you. And the question you ask last may leave a lasting impression.

As you prepare for an interview, keep in mind that very carefully crafted questions will give you insight into the company or organization and help you determine what type of place it is and whether it would be a good fit for your skills, talents and personality. In other words, would you be happy working there?

Asking intelligent questions will also show the person who is interviewing you that you’ve done your homework, understand the business and are interested in potential employment within it.

There are a multitude of questions to ask throughout the interview, and many examples of these can be found online. (We also offer tips on our website.) But what happens after most of the questions have already been asked? How do you respond when the interviewer closes the interview with, “Do you have any other questions? or “Is there anything else you’d like to know?”

Save an intelligent question for the end of the interview

Instead of saying, “No, I think I’ve asked everything I need to,” be sure to save a question for the end.

Brad Drevno, chief operating officer of Professional Case Development in Denver, Colo., – and mentor for business students at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business – has a suggestion for an idea he picked up during his search for his current position.

“We’ve all been there,” he says. “It’s the end of the interview, and after nearly an hour of pouring your heart (and work experience) out to a potential employer, the hiring manager asks if you have any last questions before wrapping up.”

“It’s meant to be a formality, of course – a way to end the conversation without kicking you out right then and there. But it’s also an opportunity, intentional or not, to make one final impression and give your interviewer something to remember you by.”

Effective question to close interview

Drevno was inspired by an article on the Medium website which was written by Marshall Darr when he was entrepreneur in residence at Tradecraft.

In the article, Darr says he ends each interview with: “Actually, yeah, I was wondering what your best moment so far at (company name) was?”

Darr credits this rather innocuous question not only with giving him insight into the hiring manager and the company in a way that perhaps no other question could, but it has also turned interviews that weren’t going well for him into invitations back.

And Drevno found that, “There’s no higher note to end on than with your interviewer’s fondest memory of the company, a feeling that can now be subconsciously associated with your prospects as a future employee.”

It gives the hiring manager a chance to share the benefits of working for the company, and if they can’t come up with a “best moment,” you might want to consider looking elsewhere.

Everyone likes a happy memory. And encouraging the hiring manager to remember one might just be the thing that sets you apart from other applicants – and leads to a call-back interview or possibly a job offer.

 

How practicing meditation in prison can help inmates cope

meditation in prison

Drew Leder.

For many prisoners, meditation, mindfulness and contemplative practices have proved to be the key to surviving the insanity and stress they encounter every day. And there are several organizations designed to help them in their efforts.

“The single best thing that could happen in prisons around the country is to get prisoners meditating,” says Drew Leder, M.D., Ph.D., a philosophy professor at Loyola University Maryland and prison volunteer. He believes that rather than just serving time, incarceration can be a time for “inner change” and an opportunity for prisoners to create peace not only within themselves but also with the world around them.

Leder has been teaching a philosophy class, which integrates elements of mindfulness and meditation, at the Jessup Correctional Institution, a maximum/medium security facility operated by the Maryland Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services in Jessup, Md., for the past eight years. He’s also written several books. The most recent, Distressed Body: Rethinking Illness, Imprisonment and Healing, includes writings by long-term inmates.

Ways meditation can benefit the lives of prisoners

Through his work in the prison and his background as a medical doctor and philosopher, Leder clearly sees the benefits that reflective practices can offer to those incarcerated.

He mentions three ways in particular that meditation/mindfulness can improve their lives. It can:

  1. Lower a person’s level of reactivity and impulsivity. When triggered by an officer or another prisoner, you take those breaths and step away, he says. Detachment and self-awareness are what stop you from getting triggered and can help prevent you from ending up in solitary confinement.
  1. Help them develop a deep spiritual practice. I’ve met prisoners who have a serious meditation practice and go to a deep place, he says. Having access to that spiritual transcendence can help you deal with the wreck that your life is in and the fact that you have to serve a long amount of time.
  1. Provide a calming effect. Prison environments can be very loud, obtrusive, chaotic and potentially violent, and prisoners use meditation as a way to just keep equanimity and lower their stress level physiologically as well as emotionally, he says. Some of them are leaning toward right thinking, in which they choose to reframe things in a more positive fashion. Rather than thinking, “my cell mate is a terrible person,” imagine what terrible things he must have gone through in his past. This is especially useful when you are in a toxic environment.
Ask prison librarian for help

For those people in prisons or jails without meditation/mindfulness classes or programs, Leder suggests talking to the institution’s librarian, if there is one, and asking them to find books or online materials that will outline the steps needed to set up an individual practice.

Prison and jail librarians might also want to check out The Power of Meditation: Finding the Freedom Within, a brochure that Leder has been producing and distributing for 15 years and which he recently updated.

It includes a brief introduction to the benefits of developing a contemplative practice in prison, testimonials from prisoners in several institutions and a resource list of organizations that work with prisoners or supply them with information on meditation and mindfulness.

Organizations that help prisoners develop a mindfulness/meditation practice

Leder says that, of these organizations, two in particular stand out in terms of their dedication to serving the prison population:

  • The Prison-Ashram Project of the Human Kindness Foundation – This organization, based in Durham, N.C., sends out free personal spirituality practice books to inmates all over the world. It receives about 400 letters from inmates each week, and volunteers answer every single one of them.
  • The Siddha Yoga Prison Project – Operated out of the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland, Calif., as part of the SYDA Foundation, it provides its Siddha Yoga Home Study Course to prisoners free of charge; donates other books and CDs to prisoners and prison librarians; and trains volunteers to conduct workshops within prisons.

In addition to Loyola University’s website for the project, which includes The Power of Meditation: Finding the Freedom Within brochure and links to the copy for its individual sections. Leder has also sent out more than 1,300 hard copies to prison and jail librarians.

 

Why ex-offenders should consider entering an apprenticeship program

apprenticeshipApprenticeships not only tend to be ex-offender friendly offering second chance employment, but they are also an excellent way to learn a set of skills that are in high demand among employers. And if you’re seriously determined to find a job, entering an apprenticeship may be the way to go.

In fact, there are statistics to back that up. Human resource consulting firm ManpowerGroup, in its 2016 Talent Shortage Survey, found that of more than 42,000 employers surveyed worldwide, 40 percent are finding difficulty filling job openings, the highest number since 2007. And for the fifth straight year, the hardest jobs to fill are skilled trades.

Top 10 jobs in terms of talent shortage
  1. Skilled trades
  2. IT staff
  3. Sales representatives
  4. Engineers
  5. Technicians
  6. Drivers
  7. Accounting and finance staff
  8. Management executives
  9. Machine operators
  10. Office staff

This fact, if nothing else, should encourage those leaving jail or prison to consider a career in the trades. But there are also other reasons, most notably that:

  • 91% of those completing an apprenticeship program gain employment.
  • The average starting wage for trade union jobs is above $60,000 per year.

Apprenticeship programs can appeal to those with a variety of skills and interests and be for jobs with titles that range from boilermaker or carpenter to meat cutter or sheet metal worker.

Although the programs may last from one to six years, the average length of an apprenticeship is four years. They combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, during which participants may learn math, drafting, how to read blueprints and other skills necessary to perform a particular job. Apprentices are paid a wage – which usually starts at 35 percent to 50 percent of a full-time union job for that industry – and receive regular pay increases during the duration of the program.

How to find an apprenticeship program

There are hundreds of apprenticeship programs across the U.S., and to find out more about those in your area, you can visit your local American Job Center or search the Internet using search words like “union apprenticeship directory.”

The results that will come up may include directories of specific trade union groups, as well as directories put together by state government agencies. Here are a few examples:

California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship Standards

Indiana union construction industry

Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program

Massachusetts building trade

Minnesota building and construction apprenticeship programs

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services apprenticeship directory

Washington Building Trades apprenticeship programs

The U.S. Department of Labor maintains a list of links to all state and U.S. territory programs.

Once you decide what type of trade you might be interested in, contact your local American Job Center or a specific union office or training center in your area for the details on what to do next. Taking that first step may lead you to a new career – and a new life beyond bars.

 

Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation’s Second Chance Summit tackles ex-offender employment issues

Dave's Killer Bread Foundation'sThe Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation brought together business, nonprofit and government leaders at its Second Chance Summit in San Francisco in early December. The goal: to educate attendees about the opportunities and resources available for employing people with criminal backgrounds

This was the organization’s fourth summit. Two others took place in Portland in 2014 and 2015, and the third in New York City earlier this year.

Speakers at the San Francisco event:
  • San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who discussed how gaining housing and employment are two key elements in helping second chance employees find success and ultimately in lowering recidivism rates. Providing employment opportunities makes a community safer by steering people away from committing crimes.
  • Jessica Jackson Sloan, the national director and co-founder of #cut50, who spoke about her personal experience with incarceration.
  • Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover in Columbus, Ohio, who discussed being a second chance/fair chance employer. He explained how at HCT, the fact that everyone starts at the bottom and the benefits offered speak to what employees actually need are what makes his business successful. The background check conducted of his employees is more than just looking at someone’s record but an honesty check. It makes sure that employees are open and honest about their past and know that it will not count against them. Currently, 68% of his staff is second chance employees, and he hopes to see that number grow in the future.
  • Seth Sundberg, founder of snack food company Prison Bars, who talked about his experience as a second chance employee and employer.
  • Van Jones, president and co-founder of The Dream Corps and #cut50, who gave the keynote address, encouraging people and companies to take a risk and hire second chance employees. Do not waste genius and make a difference in someone’s life by giving them a chance, he said.
Panels included second chance employers and employees

In addition to the speakers, panels addressed various issues related to second-chance employment.

A panel of second chance employees discussed their work experiences and how they got to where they are today. They all agreed that one of the things they were most afraid of in applying for a job was the fear of rejection because of their past. However, they were fortunate to find organizations to help them. To those on the panel, receiving a second chance means everything; it gives them somewhere positive to go, a way to provide for their families and hope. One of the most important ideas expressed during the panel session was that knowing, and learning to own, that the person you were in the past is not the person you are today.

The second chance employee panel, moderated by Paul Solomon, executive director of Sponsors, Inc., included Andre Eddings, assistant supervisor of the Wrap Department of Dave’s Killer Bread; Ruth Butler, administrative assistant at Homeboy Industries; Melissa Brewster, community engagement manager at Luminalt Solar; and Vanessa Velasquez.

Another panel consisted of employers. Panelists stressed that being a second chance employer is not something that most people think they can handle. What employers should know is that they need to take the time to get to know the people they are working with and to invest in their community. By providing jobs, they are helping the community, especially those looking for a second chance. They discussed how employers can help their second chance employers and how it can benefit them in the process.

Led by David Israel, founder of Pop! Gourmet Foods, the panel members included Ronnie Elrod, director of manufacturing for Dave’s Killer Bread; John Krause, owner of Big House Beans; Audrey Holmes, director of workforce development for Homeboy Industries; and Emma Rosenbush, general manager of Cala Restaurant.

Workshops dealt with a variety of issues

Six afternoon workshops focused on different ways employers and organizations that work with second chance employees can help them. The sessions also debunked some of the legal and insurance myths concerning employing second chance employees. Topics included getting leadership buy-in, employer insights for nonprofits, building a talent pipeline, best hiring practices and helping employees go from good to great through engagement.

The Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation focuses on empowering second chance employment. With the help of its Second Chance Playbook, available online free of charge, the organization is working on providing the resources necessary to teach companies about the benefits of hiring second chance employees.

Other organizations involved in planning and hosting the summit include #cut50, which aims to cut the prison population in half in the next 10 years, and REDF, which works to create job opportunities and pathways for those who have barriers to employment.

redf.org

What you post on social media can keep you from getting a job

social mediaAs social media becomes a growing presence in everyday life, you need to be increasingly careful about the things you post and tweet.

The pictures you publish and the things you say on social media sites can keep you from getting a job, can get you in trouble with your boss or can even get you fired. But social media postings can also work in your favor, if they portray you as professional, able to communicate effectively and make you appear as a person that would be nice to work with.

60% of employers use social media to research applicants

And don’t think that hiring managers and recruiters aren’t looking. They are. Or at least according to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey of 2,186 hiring and human research managers conducted between February 10 and March 17, 2016. It found that 60% of employers use social media sites to research job applicants, up from 52%  last year and 11% in 2005.

“Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “And with more and more people using social media, it’s not unusual to see the usage for recruitment to grow as well.”

Info on social media can hinder job search

The company’s survey found that 49% of hiring managers who screen candidates using social media found information that made them decide to not hire a candidate. The top things that bothered them:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information (46%)
  • Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs (43%)
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. (33%)
  • Bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee (31%)
  • Poor communication skills (29%)

Jobvite, a San Mateo, Calif.-based software and recruiting company, found similar responses. In its Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report 2016, based on an online survey conducted in June and completed by 1,600 recruiting and human resources professionals:

  • 47% of recruiters view pictures of alcohol consumption negatively on social media
  • 60% find over sharing a problem
  • 72% view typos negatively
  • 71% find indications of marijuana use problematic

Shutting down Facebook account may not be best idea

In the past some people recommended that job seekers should shut down their Facebook accounts, since it’s impossible to tell what a hiring manager might find offensive. These days, however, many hirers may wonder why a certain job seeker does not have a social media presence, i.e., a Facebook account.

According to the CareerBuilder survey, 41% of employers said they are less likely to interview a job applicant if they are unable to find information about that person online.

Although LinkedIn is used by hiring managers and recruiters to get an idea of an applicant’s professional background, Facebook – and to a lesser extent Twitter – portray the personal side, and can answer the question, “Is this someone I would enjoy working with.”

If your Facebook postings or tags are even slightly offensive, however, it might not be a bad idea to deactivate your account while you’re searching for a job, since it will no doubt work against you.

And even after you get a job, you’re not safe. According the CareerBuilder survey, more than a quarter of employers have either fired or reprimanded an employee because of content they found online.

It’s important to carefully consider each and every photo and comment you post, especially on Facebook. So constantly monitor your social media presence and make sure it portrays you as the kind of person that the company you dream of working for would like to hire.