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Education Grants Help Former Offenders Enter the Workforce

March 23, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) this week announced the availability of up to US$25 million in funding for organizations that help young adults enter the workforce following involvement with the justice system. The funding is available under the Young Adult Reentry Partnership 2020 grant program for adults ages 18-24 years old who are currently or have previously been involved with the juvenile or adult criminal justice system.

The DOL plans to award up to $4.5 million each to eligible organizations such as educational institutions; women’s, minority, community, and faith-based organizations; state or local governments; or any Native American entity eligible for grants. Grant applicants must seek partnerships with community colleges in order to provide education and training in those local industries most in demand.

Employers in the cleaning industry, from manufacturers and distributors to cleaning service providers, have been struggling to attract and retain workers. One solution to finding workers is turning to overlooked labor pools such as nonviolent ex-offenders.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27%: over 23 percentage points above the national average. Each year, hundreds of thousands of inmates are released from prison ready to work, but many face barriers to securing employment.

In addition to the above-mentioned grants, there are other federal and state incentive programs for employers that hire these workers. Some of these incentives are direct tax credits while others offer fidelity bonding to protect employers from possible risks.

Learn about government incentives for hiring ex-offenders.

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