Friday, December 5, 2008

Wired for Success

I have been participating in monthly meetings of the employment committee of Denver's Road Home program. This group is the job development part of Denver's initiative to reduce homelessness in the community by 75% over 5 years. The committee is made up of various community nonprofits that serve the homeless community.

One topic frequently discussed is the issue of finding employers willing to hire felony offenders. At a recent meeting, I was excited to hear of a new program that trains felons for high-wage technical jobs for the Denver metro area's growing green energy industry. The Rays of Hope Program is providing high-tech training and job placement services to 500 individuals with non-violent felonies. Turnabout, a nonprofit career and education program, is administering this program through a Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant, from the U.S. Department of Labor. I am hopeful that this program will be a good next-step for many of the non-violent felons in our Bud’s Warehouse job training program.

Unfortunately, the issue still remains of what to do with felons with past violent offenses. We want offenders to succeed after prison to reduce rates of recidivism yet we systematically close job opportunities to felons with past violent crimes. There is a need for entrepreneurial faith venture solutions to assist felons in rebuilding lives.

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