President Joe Biden recently issued a proclamation marking April as Second Chance Month, a time to raise awareness of the challenges facing individuals involved with the justice system and to spotlight the work being done by community organizations like Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois.
As noted in the proclamation, more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons every year and the overwhelming majority of people will return to their communities at some point facing many barriers to employment, housing and public benefits. In Winnebago County alone, over 4,600 individuals are under the custody of the justice system including probation and parole.
Goodwill’s Young Adult LifeLaunch program offers youth ages 18-24 a safe environment, training, work experience, case management and support to provide meaningful opportunities back into the workforce with warehouse and manufacturing training.
And it has had success. Since the program started in late 2019, 97% of the participants who enrolled in training have received an industry recognized credential that brings real opportunity in the workplace. Credentials include forklift certifications, welding certifications, and other post-secondary accomplishments. The program participants also have had no new convictions.
“There is definitely a need in our community to offer second chance services to individuals involved in the justice system,” Ben Bernsten, president of Goodwill Northern Illinois said. “The credentials offered to our LifeLaunch participants offer a real path forward with job opportunities and potential career success.”
LifeLaunch currently has openings in the program. Interested youth between the ages of 18 to 24 or caregivers can contact Grant Shubert at (815) 987-6244 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.