Goodwill® organizations around the country are committed to serving all members of the community, especially those facing specific challenges finding work. All too often, people transitioning back into society face a difficult stigma that causes challenges to gaining meaningful employment. According to a report by the National Employment Law Project, an applicant who was formerly incarcerated or arrested is 50 percent less likely to receive a call back for an interview.
To help alleviate this problem, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas is expanding its re-entry programs in Northwest Arkansas through its new resource center. The resource center in Rogers, AR, offers career services and job training for residents through programs such as Transitional Employment Opportunities program (TEO). Arkansas has the sixth highest incarceration rate in the nation, and state figures show half of people released from Arkansas prisons will return. The recidivism rate among participants in Goodwill’s re-entry programs, however, is only 5.6 percent.
Brenda Stringfellow, re-entry program coordinator at Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, says that the programs focus on job readiness, character building, coaching and life skills, and have already demonstrated tremendous impact and results in the lives of its program participants. Some participants came into the program making minimum wage and left making $20 an hour. Goodwill Industries of Arkansas also has re-entry programs in Central and Northeast Arkansas, and is expanding into Jefferson County, where the majority of those incarcerated in Arkansas prisons are housed.
During the holidays, it’s important to remember to give back to your community. Consider doing your holiday shopping at your local Goodwill store, where the proceeds help to fund Goodwill’s job training and social services programs. Collectively, Goodwill stores across the country direct more than 87 percent of revenue from the sale of donated goods to create employment placement and job training programs like TEO.