Press release from Humboldt County:
The Humboldt County Economic Development Team and Workforce Development Board today announced the receipt of a $400,000 recidivism reduction grant award from the State Workforce Development Board. Humboldt is one of eight counties awarded funds to explore new models and creative ways to most effectively align training, education and other services to improve employment outcomes for supervised populations. Project partners include the Humboldt County Probation Department, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, College of the Redwoods and the Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation.
“The bulk of the funds, along with an additional $200,000 match from the Humboldt Community Correctional Partnership, are being contracted to the Employment Training Division (ETD), of the Department of Health & Human Services, to launch the Humboldt Second Chance Program (H2CP),” said Cindy Harrington, Director of Humboldt County Economic Development.
The Humboldt County Probation Department currently has about 1,000 individuals in active supervision that may qualify for the Humboldt Second Chance Program. Many are low-income and face challenges in securing and retaining employment once released from custody. The H2CP will provide probationers with job readiness training and work experience placements to provide needed entry-level skills for permanent positions with local companies.
“This project will support job readiness, vocational training, subsidized wages and rapid employment for approximately 76 probationers,” said Connie Lorenzo, ETD Program Manager. “The project is designed to meet both the needs of probationers and businesses alike by providing job-ready workers, hiring incentives, and training and retention supports to both participating individuals and businesses.”
To foster program success, Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation (DKBF) has been enlisted to work with participating local businesses. The foundation is a nonprofit arm of the Milwaukee, Oregon-based organic bread maker. The company’s co-founder and 30 percent of their employees are ex-offenders. After rapid growth and great success, the company started a foundation that encourages and helps employers successfully employ individuals with criminal backgrounds.
“DKBF’s evidence-based hiring, onboarding and mentoring system will allow the H2CP to develop strong employment sites and business partners,” Lorenzo said. “The DKBF model provides a more uniform and effective training experience across the H2CP employer worksites. It will also provide better employment outcomes for participating businesses that employ H2CP graduates.”
Participating employers will function as work-based training sites or as permanent employers depending on their interest and ability to hire.
“Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation sees tremendous potential to educate and encourage Humboldt businesses about the practical side of Second Chance Employment. We realize that sometimes, a lack of information or understanding about employing people with criminal backgrounds is the reason that businesses are hesitant to explore this option, and we’re here to change that,” said Genevieve Martin, Executive Director of Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation. “The programming developed by the foundation helps employers develop a more complete understanding of the why and how to implement Second Chance Employment within their organizations and helps bust myths associated with doing so.”
A large employer event is planned for mid-January 2017 to further introduce local employers to the program and to Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation representatives. Businesses who opt to participate in the project will receive wage subsidies, employer-to-employer mentoring, and assistance in customizing the DKBF model to meet their individual company needs. Employers will also receive continued support through the DKBF network of H2CP employers, including ongoing training and access to the latest strategies and best practices in hiring, training and mentoring H2CP employees.