“Reducing recidivism is tied to a meaningful job. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration recognizes the dignity of work, especially for the forgotten men and women of America,” said Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training John Pallasch. With this commitment, the U.S. Department of Labor distributed $64,395,062 in Pathway Home grants to 20 recipients in 15 states across the United States to help justice-involved adults enter the workforce. The grants are administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).
RecycleForce, an FY20 recipient of the Pathway Home grant of $4 million, is an innovative electronics recycling company located in the IndyEast Promise Zone that is also committed to reducing crime by helping recently incarcerated individuals through meaningful employment and job training opportunities. They were the only organization in Indiana to receive the grant.
RecycleForce plans to utilize the $4 million Pathway Home grant by identifying inmates currently incarcerated in the Marion County jail who are interested in training for employment in high demand industries like logistics, recycling, manufacturing, hazardous material handling, and construction. Specifically, they will deliver pre-release employment and career services to returning citizens, a unique programming change for RecycleForce which usually provides services after release. Once released, program participants will report to Recycle Force for employment in a transitional job. Because reentry individuals have imposed scheduling requirements for mandated courses or meetings with parole officers, participants are given flexible scheduling to accommodate the requirements of criminal justice oversight. In addition, participants have the opportunity to obtain a high school equivalency diploma, earn certifications that are transferable and stackable, and given mentoring and wraparound services that are tailored to the needs of each individual participant. These services provide job placement assistance, build employability skills, and provide follow-ups if needed. The Pathway Home grant will allow RecycleForce to serve 400 returning citizens that otherwise would likely not have the opportunity to engage in the employment, training, and job placement assistance offered through the RecycleForce program. Because employment leads to greater public safety and fewer public dollars needed for criminal justice, they are clear benefits that directly and positively affect the community. The implementation phase of the grant is expected to begin in January 2021.
A random control trial found that “those who engage with RecycleForce have statistically significant outcomes with respect to recidivism, days in jail (for TRVs), and earnings that lasted through the sixth and seventh quarters after exit,” according to Rhonda Shipley, RecycleForce’s Program Manager. Their continued success in understanding and addressing the many challenges people face coming out of incarceration has leveraged them over $10 million in federal funds since 2015 across 7 grants and 3 federal agencies, with a significant amount coming from the U.S. Department of Labor.
This grant has also benefited RecycleForce through identifying and engaging additional community partnerships. “None of us can do this work alone,” says Rhonda Shipley, “and we attribute much of our success with engaging community partners in our work”. 1 Like Me, an organization that is experienced with pre-release services and re-entry assistance, as well as the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law SCRAP (Second Change Reentry Assistance Program), will provide additional assistance. The Pathway Home grant is also unique for RecycleForce in that recruitment has expanded from prisons to jail facilities. This increases RecycleForce’s capacity to assist not only high-risk individuals, RecycleForce’s priority demographic, but other groups who would benefit from services but may not be necessarily “high-risk”.
Workforce development, crime reduction and supportive reentry services are all priorities under the Promise Zone’s Work and Safe IndyEast Goals, and we were pleased to assist Recycle Force with a letter of support in receiving the U.S. Department of Labor’s Pathway Home grant. Their innovative approach in improving the environment, while providing sustainable workforce strategies for recently incarcerated individuals, are all factors in improving the quality of life for the Near Eastside neighborhood.