UTEC commits to scaling up its proven employment program by growing their social enterprises and increasing enrollment from 130 to 200 youth per year over three years. Through this commitment, UTEC plans to train a total of 210 additional youth and hire 150 of them to work in UTECs social enterprises. For all enrolled clients, UTEC expects a long-term recidivism rate of no more than 15%. In addition, UTEC will create and fill/refill 26 new jobs.
Perhaps most significantly, UTEC aims to have a social enterprise employment slot available for every young adult under age 25 who returns from correctional facilities. UTEC Streetworkers have pre-release access to state prisons and county jails and make weekly visits to young people who are locked up. This pre-release relationship allows Streetworkers to support transitional planning for young adults, and to bring them directly to UTEC for intake and employment upon release. UTEC offers paid work experience and workforce development through in-house social enterprises: Mattress Recycling, Food Services, and Woodworking. The social enterprises are designed with two primary objectives: to operate in a way that prioritizes and complements programming needs, and to generate revenues that offset operating costs. While a wide range of businesses might generate revenues, UTEC must select industries that align naturally with youth programming needs.
The increased employment slots being generated by this commitment are tied to two new initiatives. First, UTEC plans to open a second commercial kitchen facility next to the main program center to increase employment capacity by another 14 youth job slots. This second commercial kitchen will begin production with a line of co-branded products tortilla chips, popcorn and/or crisps for Whole Foods Markets regional stores. Second, UTEC will grow its mattress recycling enterprise to become the largest provider on the East Coast increasing production from current level of 16,000 pieces per year to 25,000 pieces in 2017, 35,000 pieces in 2018, and 40,000 pieces in 2019.
UTEC will enroll 210 new youth over three years through two channels of growth for social enterprises. Streetworker outreach in the community and in correctional facilities is a critical program recruitment activity. UTEC also works with law enforcement, courts and probation, community partners and state agencies to identify and engage young people with its defined risk factors.
1) UTEC Mattress Recycling goals are focused on production increases from its current level of 16,000 pieces per year, specifically:
FY17: 25,000 pieces
FY18: 35,000 pieces
FY19: 40,000+ pieces
Additional deliverables during the FY17 period include:
Enhance outreach to increase mattress volume:
Increase yield from municipalities by 4,000 pieces
Increase yield from colleges by 2,400 pieces
Increase yield from hotels by 800 pieces
Increase yield from other channels by 2,000 pieces
Grow the mattress recycling enterprise to create more youth job opportunities (entry level & post-UTEC):
Increase youth job opportunities by adding 4 standard youth employee slots and 2 senior (Enterprise level) slots
Hire a Program Manager to work with youth managing increased volume
Recycle over 400 tons of material
Hire 2 FTE dedicated truck driver to handle expanded trucking operations
Design and produce a new line of dog beds made from recycled foam mattresses.
2) UTEC Food Services plans are focused on the opening of the second commercial kitchen:
Fall 2016: Open commercial kitchen
Fall 2016: Create and fill at least 2 new full-time staff job and 14 new part-time youth jobs in the commercial kitchen
FY17: Document baseline annual production numbers for initial product(s)
FY17 Q4: Establish production and revenue targets for FY18
Research demonstrates that young adults are developmentally different than adults ages 25 and older. Young adults are more impulsive and more likely to make poor decisions. This has notable consequences for criminal justice, as recidivism rates for young adults are consistently high. While the Massachusetts recidivism rate averaged 35 percent across all ages, young adults ages 18-29 had a much higher rate of 41 percent.
Recidivism rates for UTECs young people are significantly lower. Among youth who have left UTEC programming, only 13 percent had been arrested in the two years since exiting. This significant drop in new offenses also reflects increased public safety and a public benefit in cost savings associated with law enforcement and incarceration. UTEC serves youth from Lowell and Lawrence, MA who are 17-24, out of school, and who are gang or criminally involved by providing work experience as part of a holistic model.
Both Lowell and Lawrence are Gateway Cities, smaller cities in Massachusetts with a median household income below the state average, and a rate of higher educational attainment below the state average. In addition to being hubs for income inequality, gateway cities tend to be home to large concentrations of immigrants. Lowell is 35 miles northwest of Boston; it is a diverse community of 109,945 residents and the fourth largest city in Massachusetts, with the second-largest Cambodian population in the United States. Lawrence is about 30 miles northwest of Boston with a population of 78,197, of which 74% is Latino.