Within 1 week of its opening on November 28, 2011, KRA’s Work Participation, Placement, and Support Services Program in downtown Baltimore, Maryland, was up and running and enrolling customers on December 5, 2011. Under this initiative, operated and managed by KRA for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (DSS), Temporary Cash Assistance recipients are supported with a comprehensive blend of workforce development activities that include a community work experience program (CWEP) and occupation-specific skills training. By January 10, 2012, the Baltimore team, led by Nate’ Gordon, KRA Program Manager, had enrolled 25 customers, with 24 participating in CWEP 3 days/week and professional development classes 2 days/week. The other customer has been placed in a fulltime job as a tax professional for a national tax preparation firm. CWEP customers are gaining valuable work experience in the Administrative, Childcare, Cosmetology, Customer Service, Education, Hospitality, Janitorial, and Warehousing industries.
The Baltimore team is also in the process of implementing KRA’s innovative Pantry Point Program that allows customers who meet their Individual Employment Plan requirements to earn points that can be redeemed at the “Pantry” for a wide variety of foodstuffs and household and personal care items. Highly successful at other KRA projects as an incentive program, the Pantry Point concept was presented by Ms. Gordon and Celeste Simmons, KRA Operations Manager, at a recent DSS All Vendor’s Meeting, and was well-received. One DSS Supervisor commented, “We are very excited that there is a new company that is thinking outside the box.”