CTEP AmeriCorps Civic Engagement Presentation: Jobs After Incarceration
Each year our 35 CTEP AmeriCorps members choose community action projects that make a contribution to bridging the digital divide. The CTEP civic engagement projects are often cited by CTEP AmeriCorps members, staff, supervisors, and community supporters as one of the most unique and energizing parts of the program.
This project addresses the reality that formerly incarcerated individuals are often unsupported upon their reentry to the workforce and society on the whole. In 2005, 47% of formerly incarcerated individuals were rearrested within three years. This is in part due to the stigma attached to incarceration and/or a criminal record. In many cases, employers will not hire a person with a criminal record, and human service organizations and resources with a focus on this particular population are sparse. Additionally, people who’ve recently been released from jail or prison are likely unfamiliar with newer technologies, platforms, and social norms. It is extremely difficult to learn these new skills and put them into practice without guidance and support. Our Civic Engagement project aimed to create tangible avenues for participants to access these necessary resources and give workshops to support formerly incarcerated people in their job search.
Our workshop consisted of two parts: preparation for job search and job search support. The desire to break the project up stemmed from the fact that it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to job applications. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to search for and apply for jobs when you aren’t prepared for the immediate needs of transitioning out of incarceration. The first part of our workshop goes over resources to help participants learn about how to obtain important identification documents, language/translation resources, opening a bank account and finding housing. These are all essential to understand and settle before embarking on the job search. The second part of the workshop aims to educate participants about the job hunt and how it might be limited as a formerly incarcerated person. The workshop goes through workers rights, illegal interview questions and other basic job search strategies and skills. These workshops will also offer space for participants to ask questions and discuss this information.
Our group will be presenting these workshops with RS Eden. RS Eden is a nonprofit organization located in Saint Paul that helps formerly incarcerated people with reentry, assists with substance use disorders and helps sets people up with housing. Our project group has been in contact with Emily Dingley, a case manager there, to finalize a workshop time.
Group Members: Mackenzie Lofgren, Sophie Wimberley, Katherine Erickson