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Workforce, Inc. - Green for All Case Study

Workforce, Inc. - Green for All Case Study

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Published by: svnetwork on Jun 18, 2010
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Workforce, Inc.Indianapolis, IN
Workforce, Inc. (WFI) operates as a social enterprise– a business with a social mission.Their stated mission is two-fold: 1) become the most comprehensive recycling hub inIndianapolis, Indiana and 2) help those returning from prison have immediate,legitimate earnings combined with a broad array of social supports. In 2006, WFIstarted providing transitional jobs for recently released offenders in the emergingelectronic waste recycling industry. This program seeks to keep as much electronicwaste as possible out of landfills and recover the waste in a way it can be re-used inindustry. WFI was the first recycler in the state to complete the stringent registrationprocess for e-waste recycling developed by the Indiana Department of EnvironmentalManagement. The City of Indianapolis contracts with WFI to handle electronic wastecollected at Tox Drop events and the State sends a portion of its end-of life-electronicsto WFI. Since 2006, the program has employed 287 people, paid near $1.75 million inwages and only 17% of participants have been returned to prison. For employees whoowe child support, they pay an average of over $1,300 in child support during the sixmonths of transitional employment.This case study is current as of May 2010. For more information, visitwww.work-force-inc.comor contact Gregg Keeslinggkeesling@work-force-inc.com.
Community Served
Workforce, Inc. exclusively serves offenders who have beenreleased from incarceration within the prior 60 days. Participants,referred primarily through community corrections, parole, andprobation, are virtually unemployable in the private sector.WFI estimates that approximately 65% of their participants sinceprogram inception have no legitimate work history. A program of transitional employment is their best and perhaps only shot atsecuring employment paying a livable wage in the mainstreameconomy.WFI’s recent participant demographics:
 
68% African American, 29% White, 2% Hispanic, 1% NativeAmerican
 
15% released from jail, 85% from prison
 
65% did not graduate from high school. Indianapolis PublicSchools has one of the highest dropout rates in the country.
Number ofParticipants Served
 
About 40+ at a time and over 100 per year
 
WFI estimates they have enough product to serve over 200participants a year, but would need more funding to do so.
Support ServicesOffered
WFI provides supportive services to program participantsthrough an Employee Assistance Program that operates under themantra of "Work – Responsibility – Reward." WFI is committed to
 
 
the principle that work and responsibility create their ownrewards and thus emphasizes this principle with their participants by rewarding behaviors they wish to encourage. Approximately95 percent of these funds are spent on transportation (generally bus passes), mandated court costs and probation fees, attorneyfees, participants' rent, and work clothing.
Green Transitional Jobs
Participants are employed in WFI’s transitional jobs program forup to six months where they work in the electric waste recyclingindustry and other recycling including cardboard, plastics andaluminum. Since 2009, WFI has processed 100 tons of cardboard attheir Chancellor A. Keesling Community Recycling Facility.WFI enables participants to gain marketable job skills: using smalltools, material handling, problem-solving, loading and unloadingtrucks and pallets, and certifications in Hazardous Materials andForklift Safety. The WFI program stresses the importance of  building a credible work history, learning to come to work eachday on time, working with others, and adjusting to a work regimen. WFI also focuses on developing the social capital of participants by encouraging them to interact with communityleaders, community projects, judges, probation officers, and childsupport officials. This helps others see the participant in adifferent light.A typical day involves six to seven hours of paid work and one totwo hours of release time for participation in activities thataddress specific barriers to successful reentry, such as basiceducation classes, job training, drug/alcohol or other treatment,and scheduled appointments (i.e., court appearances, meetingswith probation officers). While enrolled in the transitional jobsprogram, recent participants have earned an average of $5,805 andpaid an average of $876 in taxes.
Key Partners
 Job training
 
Some clients attend the local Community College.
 
The State of Indiana gave WFI a KeyTrain license, a system forimproving basic workplace skills that leads to a NationalCareer Readiness Certification. 38 participants have becomeeligible for this certification while working at WFI.
 
National Transitional Jobs Network 
 
The Japanese companies, Philo Metals and the MitsuiCorporation, buy WFI’s gold materials and understands theirsocial mission. Dr. Tetsuyuki Koizumi attends reentrymeetings and helps the workers understand their role in theglobal economy. He helps the workers think of electronicwaste as an American raw material. (There is more gold in aton of electronic waste than in 55 tons of gold ore.) The
 
 
workers value add value to this raw material by separating itfrom the plastic, steel, copper and aluminum prior to shippingto and processing in Japan
 
State of Indiana Child Support EnforcementSupport Services
 
WFI participates in a Federal Office of Child SupportEnforcement project that allows for child support arrearageowed to the state that accrued while the employee wasincarcerated to be waived. Furthermore this project helps thecourt to set realistic current orders when the employee isreleased.
Eligibility
WFI’s programs are open to all who have been released fromincarceration within the prior 60 days. There are no restrictionson crimes, in fact some of the most successful workers havecommitted the most serious crimes.
Funding
 
Private sector revenue from selling recycled material
 
Grants
 
Government contracts, including probation and work releasefacilities.
 
In 2008, Workforce, Inc. (WFI) was awarded a Federal JobOpportunities for Low Income Individuals (JOLI) grant toserve 48 persons re-entering the community from prison via itssocial enterprise, Remaking our Resources.
Data Tracking
WFI uses excel and case files to track:1.
 
Number of participants who complete the transitional jobprogram and secure full-time employment in the mainstreameconomy.2.
 
For those with child support orders and arrearages, the abilityto work out child support modifications, establish regularsupport payments, and re-connect with their child(ren) andcustodial parent (if desired).3.
 
Number of participants who develop work readiness skills and become eligible for National Career Readiness Certification.4.
 
Number of participants who do not return to prison.
EmployerIncentives
WFI uses Work Opportunity Tax Credits, but finds theireffectiveness to be limited since employers of late do not havesignificant taxable income and employers do not have a strongneed for the credit. WFI also uses a professional employerorganization (PEO) that is is eligible for the WOTC tax credit. Inpast years the PEO has donated back to WFI portions of thesecredits to help fund the program.

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