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Their stated mission is two-fold: 1) become the most comprehensive recycling hub in Indianapolis, Indiana and 2) help those returning from prison have immediate, legitimate earnings combined with a broad array of social supports. In 2006, WFI started providing transitional jobs for recently released offenders in the emerging electronic waste recycling industry. This program seeks to keep as much electronic waste as possible out of landfills and recover the waste in a way it can be re-used in industry. WFI was the first recycler in the state to complete the stringent registration process for e-waste recycling developed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The City of Indianapolis contracts with WFI to handle electronic waste collected at Tox Drop events and the State sends a portion of its end-of life-electronics to WFI. Since 2006, the program has employed 287 people, paid near $1.75 million in wages and only 17% of participants have been returned to prison. For employees who owe child support, they pay an average of over $1,300 in child support during the six months of transitional employment. This case study is current as of May 2010. For more information, visit www.workforce-inc.com or contact Gregg Keesling firstname.lastname@example.org. Community Served Workforce, Inc. exclusively serves offenders who have been released from incarceration within the prior 60 days. Participants, referred primarily through community corrections, parole, and probation, are virtually unemployable in the private sector. WFI estimates that approximately 65% of their participants since program inception have no legitimate work history. A program of transitional employment is their best and perhaps only shot at securing employment paying a livable wage in the mainstream economy. WFI’s recent participant demographics: • 68% African American, 29% White, 2% Hispanic, 1% Native American • 15% released from jail, 85% from prison • 65% did not graduate from high school. Indianapolis Public Schools has one of the highest dropout rates in the country. • About 40+ at a time and over 100 per year • WFI estimates they have enough product to serve over 200 participants a year, but would need more funding to do so. WFI provides supportive services to program participants through an Employee Assistance Program that operates under the mantra of "Work – Responsibility – Reward." WFI is committed to
Number of Participants Served Support Services Offered
Green Transitional Jobs
the principle that work and responsibility create their own rewards and thus emphasizes this principle with their participants by rewarding behaviors they wish to encourage. Approximately 95 percent of these funds are spent on transportation (generally bus passes), mandated court costs and probation fees, attorney fees, participants' rent, and work clothing. Participants are employed in WFI’s transitional jobs program for up to six months where they work in the electric waste recycling industry and other recycling including cardboard, plastics and aluminum. Since 2009, WFI has processed 100 tons of cardboard at their Chancellor A. Keesling Community Recycling Facility. WFI enables participants to gain marketable job skills: using small tools, material handling, problem-solving, loading and unloading trucks and pallets, and certifications in Hazardous Materials and Forklift Safety. The WFI program stresses the importance of building a credible work history, learning to come to work each day 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 community leaders, community projects, judges, probation officers, and child support officials. This helps others see the participant in a different light. A typical day involves six to seven hours of paid work and one to two hours of release time for participation in activities that address specific barriers to successful reentry, such as basic education classes, job training, drug/alcohol or other treatment, and scheduled appointments (i.e., court appearances, meetings with probation officers). While enrolled in the transitional jobs program, recent participants have earned an average of $5,805 and paid an average of $876 in taxes. Job training • Some clients attend the local Community College. • The State of Indiana gave WFI a KeyTrain license, a system for improving basic workplace skills that leads to a National Career Readiness Certification. 38 participants have become eligible for this certification while working at WFI. • National Transitional Jobs Network • The Japanese companies, Philo Metals and the Mitsui Corporation, buy WFI’s gold materials and understands their social mission. Dr. Tetsuyuki Koizumi attends reentry meetings and helps the workers understand their role in the global economy. He helps the workers think of electronic waste as an American raw material. (There is more gold in a ton of electronic waste than in 55 tons of gold ore.) The
workers value add value to this raw material by separating it from the plastic, steel, copper and aluminum prior to shipping to and processing in Japan State of Indiana Child Support Enforcement
Support Services • WFI participates in a Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement project that allows for child support arrearage owed to the state that accrued while the employee was incarcerated to be waived. Furthermore this project helps the court to set realistic current orders when the employee is released. WFI’s programs are open to all who have been released from incarceration within the prior 60 days. There are no restrictions on crimes, in fact some of the most successful workers have committed the most serious crimes. • Private sector revenue from selling recycled material • Grants • Government contracts, including probation and work release facilities. • In 2008, Workforce, Inc. (WFI) was awarded a Federal Job Opportunities for Low Income Individuals (JOLI) grant to serve 48 persons re-entering the community from prison via its social enterprise, Remaking our Resources. WFI uses excel and case files to track: 1. Number of participants who complete the transitional job program and secure full-time employment in the mainstream economy. 2. For those with child support orders and arrearages, the ability to work out child support modifications, establish regular support payments, and re-connect with their child(ren) and custodial 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. WFI uses Work Opportunity Tax Credits, but finds their effectiveness to be limited since employers of late do not have significant taxable income and employers do not have a strong need for the credit. WFI also uses a professional employer organization (PEO) that is is eligible for the WOTC tax credit. In past years the PEO has donated back to WFI portions of these credits to help fund the program.
Transitioning to Unsubsidized Employment
Ongoing assistance is provided to find steady employment at sustainable wages and follow-up is provided once participants are employed in the community. WFI tracks participants for six months after leaving the program and continues to provide career services and support to promote work attachment. Nearly 50% of recent participants have transitioned into permanent jobs, which include positions in retail, construction, manufacturing, recycling, nonprofit, and general labor. Of those, 32% have achieved six-month retention in their employment and another 42% are still on track to do so Transitions have declined from 65% in 2007 and 2008 due to the worsening economic situation in Indiana.