KRA San Diego Provides New Beginnings for Justice-Involved Individuals – The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP)—KRA client-partner for the operation of the San Diego Career Centers (SDCC)—posted in Workforce News, “Roughly seven million Californians…have an arrest or conviction record, which significantly undermines efforts to obtain gainful employment [which is] essential in reducing recidivism [and] helping formerly incarcerated people support themselves and their families.”
Employing a proactive approach for the San Diego County communities, in 2017, the SDCC launched a 5-day workforce-readiness workshop series, New Beginnings, for justice-involved customers re-entering the workforce. To date, 72 participants have completed New Beginnings, with 90% finding and retaining employment.
Expanding the program’s impact, about 2 years ago, Terrance Bowens, KRA Specialized Grants Manager, and Catherine McLean, KRA Rapid Re-Housing Program Supervisor, began contributing their expertise to the Transitions Reentry Program, taught by Julie Eramo, at San Diego’s Donovan Correctional Facility.
Collaboratively, this dynamic trio organized a groundbreaking Transitions Career Fair, recruiting apprenticeship-program providers and employers willing to hire qualified inmates—even those with felony convictions—with less than a year until release, or with pending parole-suitability hearings.
To ensure maximum success for the inmates, 2 weeks prior, a “Boot Camp” was convened, spearheaded by Terrance; Catherine; and Amy Vance, SDWP Program Specialist; and supported by co-facilitators Zachary Avina, Attorney-at-Law; and Daniel Villarreal, Go-Staff Employer; and Christopher Johnson, a “lifer” paroled after 28 years, as an inspiring example of reentry success following New Beginnings and Transitions participation.
Boot Camp focused on resume development, interviewing “do’s” and “don’ts, attire, etc., as well as Fidelity Bonding, healthcare, housing, vocational rehabilitation, and other issues requiring post-release supportive services.
More than 25 Career Fair resource providers met one-on-one with 100 job-hopefuls, whose spirits were boosted by Alan Armijo, Power Partners USA, who donated neckties, taught those who did not know, how to tie them, and encouraged wearing the ties for their interviews!
Scheduled release dates vary widely, from 1 day up to 1 year. However, when released, all Fair participants are encouraged to enroll in New Beginnings to work with KRA Career Agents (CA), who can follow-up with apprenticeship-program providers and employers that conducted interviews at the Fair, as well as other SDCC employment- and training-program partner resources.
To date, one participant is employed by Rhino Staging, two are working with CA’s, and another is pursuing CDL training through an occupational-skills development program!