Friday, February 12, 2010

Partnering with Government in Faith-Based Job Training

I think one of the most interesting changes occurring over my last ten years at Bud’s Warehouse has been government’s new willingness to partner with our faith-based organization.

When I started in my role there was a definite wall between government and faith-based organizations that went both ways. Government didn’t want to work with faith groups and we returned the favor. Many religious organizations didn’t want to work with government because it added layers of bureaucracy and threatened an organization’s independence.

But without doubt, that wall has come down.

Recently, I was told by a government case manager that they loved working with Belay because we were the only organization in town that would employ and job-train individuals with certain types of felony convictions. In a metro area of 2.7 million, we’re the only training program in Denver for felony ex-offenders trying to find the skills for gainful employment.

I love the fact that employees in government are comfortable working with us. They have no problem with the faith aspects of our program as long as we don’t make it mandatory for program individuals. Yet, in our experience, most do choose to participate because they see their relationship with God as an important part of rebuilding their life.

This week, 3 new people started with us from an Arapaho County work skills program. And this should grow to 10 over the next month. These individuals will be important to the development of our cabinet manufacturing program. We will run these new participants through our Bud’s Warehouse training program allowing our current employees to transition into a test run of cabinet assembly. It’s exciting to see how God continues to bring together all the resources needed for what could be a very effective training program.

If you’re a similar faith-based organization, don’t automatically dismiss relationships with government because of concerns about maintaining your identity and independence. My experience has been that it is an extremely powerful and low-cost way to expand an organization and increase its missional impact.

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