Second Chances Matter: Greg’s Story

Second Chances Matter: Greg’s Story

Second Chances Matter: Greg’s Story

If there’s one thing hard-baked into the American dream, it’s the second chance.

We all love second-chance stories—from the Gospel message itself found in the Bible to movies like Les Miserables, Invictus, or The Green Mile.

Perhaps it’s precisely because we all make mistakes and long to be treated with grace—and space to try again—that second chances matter.

And if second chances matter for you and me in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, how much more do second chances matter to those who have committed crimes and paid their debt to society—only to have doors slammed in their faces when they try to start over?

For a glimpse into the life of a Braselton, Georgia man who experienced first-hand how hard it was to get back on his feet after serving his prison sentence—and how important it was to have folks willing to give him a second chance—check out Greg Leppa’s story in the video above.

As Greg’s story proves, second chances are all about hope for a better future. And this is where Georgia Center for Opportunity’s groundbreaking program, Hiring Well, Doing Good (HWDG) comes in. HWDG offers folks coming out of prison—and other circumstances with significant barriers to employment—the resources and tools they need to find a job with a livable wage.

Through key partnerships with employers, community groups, churches, and other nonprofits, HWDG helps participants at this critical juncture of their lives identify the things that are holding them back, gain clarity on next steps and set goals, and acquire the necessary job skills to get a job and become successful.

As Greg shares, nobody can survive without a job. And as his story shows, getting that first job after prison was the most difficult thing because so many places weren’t open to hiring former inmates.

Second chances really do matter.

Click here to learn more about the HWDG program and find out how you can help give folks like Greg the second chance they need to not just survive, but thrive.

Introducing an Innovative New Way for Those in Poverty to Find Work

Introducing an Innovative New Way for Those in Poverty to Find Work

Introducing an Innovative New Way for Those in Poverty to Find Work

Government, particularly at the federal level, can only do so much to help those who are struggling in poverty to lead stable lives. We know instinctively that real change happens at the community level, when individuals, businesses, nonprofits, churches, and schools come together in the joint mission of lifting people out of poverty, giving them purpose, and strengthening the local economy.

That’s the theory behind Georgia Center for Opportunity’s Hiring Well, Doing Good (HWDG) initiative. HWDG brings together individuals seeking jobs with employers who need good workers and nonprofit community organizations who serve those in need.

Here’s the exciting news: Until this point, HWDG was all about one-on-one, face-to-face interaction. As a result, there was a natural limit to the number of people we could reach.

 

Announcing the HWDG online portal

The great news is that we’re taking the one-on-one interaction that makes HWDG so special and effective and scaling it online. In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching a new online portal website for HWDG as a pilot test in Columbus before scaling to other Georgia cities later in 2020, including South Gwinnett.

Individuals start with the HWDG online assessment tool to identify their barriers. The portal then shepherds them through the process and connects them with wrap-around services to remove their employment barriers and then directly with employers eager to hire.

Employers who participate benefit by getting a steady stream of committed, reliable workers ready to contribute.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the launch of HWDG’s online portal,” said Eric Cochling, Chief Program Officer and General Counsel for GCO who is also heading up HWDG. “This gives us a unique opportunity to reach underserved areas and treat individuals holistically. We know that a well-paying, upwardly mobile job is a key factor in well-being. But the benefits of work extend so far behind that—it provides a sense of purpose and contribution to one’s family and broader community.” 

What makes the HWDG portal unique

It would be a mistake to think of the HWDG portal as just another Monster.com or Indeed.com. What makes this portal unique is the fact that it addresses the individual from multiple sides.

We’ve actually vetted and worked with the full spectrum of local resources to ensure that peoples’ barriers are addressed and resolved. We match a specific individual to help for a specific barrier they’ve experienced that’s preventing them from getting a job.

That’s what really excites us. Other services only have one side of the equation—linking an individual with a job. But that’s not treating people like people. The wrap-around services provided by the HWDG portal remove the barriers that make employment difficult.

Breakthrough 2019 – Bettering Lives With Better Business

Breakthrough 2019 – Bettering Lives With Better Business

Breakthrough 2019 – Bettering Lives With Better Business

Is it possible to do good while making a profit?

The resounding answer from our jobs panel at Breakthrough 2019 was “yes.”

The big question, of course, is how to do it. We heard from mission-driven leaders in the business community dedicated to helping the disadvantaged access the social capital and soft and hard skills needed to excel and thrive:  

  • Michael Jones of Thrive Farmers, whose coffee and tea business not only serves great products but also sought to find an equitable way to support farmers. 
  • Donnell Woodson of FCS Ministries, which works with communities to provide solutions and job resources that uniquely suit a given community. 

Georgia Center for Opportunity’s Hiring Well, Doing Good (HWDG) initiative is dedicated to helping the disadvantaged find and thrive in work. HWDG seeks to understand the barriers that disadvantaged people face (such as lack of childcare, transportation, and housing). We also focus on the type of soft-skills training that is key to getting a job and progressing in it.

Check back soon for more content from Breakthrough 2019!

 

 

Breakthrough 2019 – Criminal Justice Reforms That Restore & Empower

Breakthrough 2019 – Criminal Justice Reforms That Restore & Empower

Breakthrough 2019 – Criminal Justice Reforms That Restore & Empower

Georgia ranks 4th nationwide in incarceration rates. One out of every 18 people are in jail, on probation, or on parole. And about 40 percent of Georgians have a criminal record.

These are just a few of the startling statistics on criminal justice in the Peach State. We know that one of the most significant consequences to a criminal record is the enormous barrier it poses to employment. Here again, Georgia is one of only a handful of states where a criminal offense stays on an ex-offender’s record forever. It can’t be expunged after a given period of time.

At Breakthrough 2019, we heard from Doug Ammar of the Georgia Justice Project who shared about criminal justice reform and its link to giving people a second chance at employment. The wonderful news is that a job is one key way to help ex-offenders not repeat their crimes and lead a fulfilling life.

Check back soon for more content from Breakthrough 2019!

Breakthrough 2019 – Bettering Lives With Better Business

Breakthrough 2019 – Bettering Lives With Better Business

Breakthrough 2019 – Bettering Lives With Better Business

Is it possible to do good while making a profit?

The resounding answer from our jobs panel at Breakthrough 2019 was “yes.”

The big question, of course, is how to do it. We heard from mission-driven leaders in the business community dedicated to helping the disadvantaged access the social capital and soft and hard skills needed to excel and thrive:  

  • Michael Jones of Thrive Farmers, whose coffee and tea business not only serves great products but also sought to find an equitable way to support farmers. 
  • Donnell Woodson of FCS Ministries, which works with communities to provide solutions and job resources that uniquely suit a given community. 

Georgia Center for Opportunity’s Hiring Well, Doing Good (HWDG) initiative is dedicated to helping the disadvantaged find and thrive in work. HWDG seeks to understand the barriers that disadvantaged people face (such as lack of childcare, transportation, and housing). We also focus on the type of soft-skills training that is key to getting a job and progressing in it.

Check back soon for more content from Breakthrough 2019!

 

 

Breakthrough 2019 – Businesses Investing In Student Readiness

Breakthrough 2019 – Businesses Investing In Student Readiness

Breakthrough 2019 – Businesses Investing In Student Readiness

We know that a traditional four-year college pathway isn’t the right choice for many students in Georgia. The harder part is figuring out which alternative pathway is the best.

Breaking ground in these areas are forward-thinking employers like Southwire, America’s leading manufacturer of wire and cable used for electricity distribution and transmission. Southwire’s 12 for Life apprenticeship program has become a national model for helping at-risk high-school students finish their education, attain marketable skills, and potentially move right into a tech job right after graduation. 

The program graduates anywhere from 50 to 75 students each year, drawn from eight high schools represented in three Georgia counties. Over 2,900 students have graduated the program over the last decade. Watch the video to hear Marsha Smith, who heads up 12 for Life, explain how the program is a catalyst for community-level change. 

“We’ve seen students go from being homeless to being interns in our facility to become full-time employees,” Marsha shares.