The Northwest Indiana Workforce Board (NWIWB) and the Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI), awarded $600,000 in federal funds from the Workforce Investment & Opportunity Act (WIOA) to Goodwill Industries of Michiana, with the goal of serving up to 200 individuals who have been released from the judicial system and are unemployed in Northwest Indiana.
Goodwill will design, administer and deliver the re-entry services through June 2020 in Lake, Porter, La Porte, Newton, Jasper, and Starke counties. The targeted services and activities will be implemented through the WorkOne offices and include workshops, job search assistance, career counseling, workforce experience opportunities, access to occupational skills training, supportive services, case management, placement and follow-up for participants.
Debra Baughman, Vice President of Branch Training for Horizon Bank and Chair of the NWIWB said she sees this program as another way to expand the region’s talent pool. “Employers may find a solid base of workers in this population and need to consider the tax incentives and training resources available to them, depending on the job and the industry.”
“People with blemished backgrounds have the challenge of finding resources to help them integrate back into society,” said Linda Woloshansky, CWI President and CEO, and Executive Staff to the NWIWB. “This program will help to mitigate the challenges, allowing these folks to concentrate on adjusting to life and providing them assistance and resources to get back to work,” she added.
Woloshansky said that Goodwill was selected for the award because of their solid experience in providing re-entry services in several Michiana communities, and they have been a leading provider of workforce developments services which enable and empower individuals with disadvantages.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary believes the targeted services will contribute to the work being done through the Gary for Life initiative. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board, the Center of Workforce Innovations, and Goodwill on behalf of some our most challenged citizens. Through Gary for Life, we promise to help those who choose to lead a law-abiding life after involvement with the criminal justice system,” said Freeman. “This is another way that will assist us in making good on that promise,” she added.
Although many of these hard-to-place individuals are selecting to work hard and make positive changes to their life, they may need to retool themselves for those career choices that accept ex-offenders. The WorkOne Business Services team will be instrumental in employer outreach to educate them on the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and other incentives available to them should they hire an ex-offender and provide them a fair opportunity.
For further information related to this initiative, contact the Center of Workforce Innovations at 219-462-2940.