Goodwill Industries of Arkansas (GIA) has been awarded the Second Chance Act Community-based Reentry Program Grant by the U.S. Department of Justice, amounting to $749,973. The money will be used to support Goodwill’s Transitional Employment Opportunity (TEO) program over a three year period.
The TEO program is meant to help formerly incarcerated individuals who face serious obstacles to reentering their communities, and has been doing so since 2009, providing them with job and life skills training. Reentry staff assist clients through job readiness training, job leads, job search and resume assistance, interview preparation, mock interviews and job retention, all of which help smooth the transition and reduce recidivism.
“The Goodwill Industries of Arkansas continues to have a profound impact in our communities through their efforts to provide opportunities to individuals upon their reentry to society,” said U.S. Rep. French Hill. “These opportunities provide professional skills training and sets regimens and routines while reducing the rate of recidivism. I was proud to support their application for this grant and look forward to the good work GIA continues to do within our immediate community.”
The grant came largely thanks to widespread support from community partners and state agencies, including a letter from Congressman Hill. GIA is one of only 22 organizations in the US to receive the grant, and the only one in Arkansas.
“This grant will not only impact the individuals who receive our TEO program services, it will also produce a ripple effect on their families, local communities, Arkansas’ workforce and economy that is nearly impossible to measure,” said Goodwill Industries of Arkansas President and CEO Brian Marsh. “Transforming lives is an effort that takes collaboration among a number of stakeholders, including our local and state governments, and other non-profits that place a priority on education, training and employment.”
With this money, the TEO program is expanding service to 20 communities all over the state, and their results speak for themselves: the average rate of formerly incarcerated individuals who return to prison in Arkansas is 46.1%, but for those who work with the GIA’s program, the rate drops massively to less than 6%.
It is expected that the grant will allow the program to assist approximately 900 people, compared to the state’s prison population of roughly 19,000. The grant will even provide participants with the opportunity for scholarships to The Academy at Goodwill, where they can receive training and certifications in welding, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and carpentry.