STRIVE and its partners will expand justice-involved youth with jobs in three new cities.

NEW YORK, June 28, 2022 – STRIVE, a leading national nonprofit workforce development organization, was announced after a competitive process as a recipient of a Department of Labor (DOL) grant to connect justice-impacted young adults to careers with a pathway for advancement. This $4 million support will allow STRIVE to expand our Future Leaders program in three cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The STRIVE Future Leaders program connects young adults (aged 18-24) impacted by the justice system to career opportunities. The program provides training and support services, all driving toward STRIVE’s purpose to ensure that everyone can achieve upward mobility and financial empowerment for themselves and their families. This is the second year in a row that STRIVE received DOL support to expand the program. These combined funds will serve a total of 970 students in seven cities throughout the life of the grants, which will run through 2024.

“This grant offers more than career opportunities to justice-involved youth,” says Jomal Vailes, Executive Director at STRIVE Atlanta. “It also provides a second chance and a springboard to economic mobility for young adults to provide for themselves and their families. We are glad to provide them with resources and support their growth. As the first expansion site, this shows the growth, commitment, and investment that we have here in Atlanta.”

All the partner sites where the STRIVE Future Leaders program will be implemented with this grant are deeply underserved, with few comprehensive programs meeting the needs of youth with histories of involvement in the criminal justice system. Often, youth struggle to find a good job, which leads to their re-arrest. The Future Leaders program will address the needs of these young citizens upon their release, supporting them on their journey to reintegration and self-sufficiency.

This year’s funding from the DOL will directly equip STRIVE Future Leaders with the resources to serve 415 youth over three years, as operated through STRIVE Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia and two licensed partner organizations: Chicago CRED (Chicago) and Career Resources Inc. (Bridgeport, CT).

“Chicago’s young people have infinite potential but, due to exposure to gun violence, many have faced extreme trauma in their lives that can create challenges as they transition into the legal economy,” says Arne Duncan, Managing Partner at Chicago CRED and former US Secretary of Education. “This grant will help participants in our violence prevention program succeed in the workplace and live safer, healthier, and more rewarding lives.”

“CRI is excited to expand our great work with justice involved youth in the Bridgeport community,” says CRI President and CEO Scott K. Wilderman. “We are equally ecstatic to be included in this partnership as we work with STRIVE and our sister affiliates to break down system silos and forge career pathways towards self-sufficiency.”

STRIVE Atlanta, Chicago CRED, and CRI will work in partnership with local employers, community organizations, and the justice system to provide the professional and occupational skills needed to enter the workforce. Accompanying the training, STRIVE Future Leaders includes case management and social supports as part of a proprietary, evidence-based model.

Tailoring the model for justice-impacted youth, students will connect with adults who have lived through the justice system as mentors, called credible messengers, through a partnership with Credible Messenger Mentoring Movement (CM3). CM3’s mission is to help transform the lives of justice involved youth, their families, and the justice systems that impact them by supporting and advancing credible messenger initiatives in communities nationally. This partnership reunites CM3’s Executive Vice President Lorenzo Harrison with STRIVE, where he served for more than a decade in key leadership roles before building a longstanding career at the U.S. Department of Labor.

In addition to mentors, students work with career coaches on goal setting and case management through partners at EMPath, a nonprofit whose mission is to transform people’s lives by helping them move out of poverty and provide other institutions with the tools to systematically do the same. Students will engage in pro-social activities, including employment and education, while receiving the support they need to maintain long-term financially sustaining employment, keep a stable residence, and successfully address substance abuse issues and mental health needs.

STRIVE has a successful track record of partnering with the DOL. This marks the tenth federal grant since 2012 awarded to STRIVE, allowing us to serve 3,500 justice-involved adults and youth across 10 U.S. cities.

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