APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Recruitment and preparation for employment is accomplished in cooperation with justice agencies and other referring partners. When possible, initial relationships are established with prospective participants while still in the institution with entry into CJC upon release. Orientation includes skill and educational assessment and outlining of individual case management, career preparation and education plans which serve as the basis for assessing performance, documenting milestones and assuring progress toward accomplishment of goals. Plans guide a six month intensive development period that is integrated with competency based service and service learning 'on the job' experience. Integrated education, service and workforce development best practices increase skills academically and occupationally. Individually designed wrap-around services provide the support needed to experience success.
During the intensive six month experience while working in teams, participants earn a stipend and engage in locally identified, high-priority service projects. Projects are selected and managed in ways that maximize the occupational skills gained and expose participants to future employers/careers and at the same time build recognition of the value of civic engagement. Participants receive industry recognized credentials such as 'Building Analyst' leading to energy savings careers or pre-apprentice status with possible direct entry into recognized apprenticeships. After six months of employment, participants will receive transitional support and services for 12 additional months to make sure they have the resources and support needed to be gainfully employed and/or successful in post-secondary education. It is anticipated that programs/participants will have a primary focus on emerging green occupations however, understanding that interests vary, access to exploration of multiple careers and pathways will be offered.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
1500 new CJC jobs will be created in two years with 500 hires in 2012 and an additional 1000 in 2013. Sites will be selected based on readiness to implement as determined by The Corps Network (TCN) criteria and based on requirements of funders.
With support from Open Society Foundation (OSF), TCN will establish a national data collection system, enhance technical assistance and monitoring and provide professional development for CJC staff, all keys to assuring that deliverables are achieved. Performance measures include participants served, educational gains and program completion, placement in postsecondary education and/or employment, retention and tracking of recidivism - as well as tracking impact in community. TCN is committed to reducing recidivism to 10-15% (from 50 to 70%) and meeting or exceeding measures reported in the pilot. Additional performance measures may be added.
According to US Department of Labor, one quarter of youth in the U.S. are unemployed and over 200,000 young people return to their communities from incarceration each year. 50-70% of those who have been incarcerated will be re-incarcerated within two years at annual average cost of $87,961.36 per youth as documented by the American Correctional Association. For this annual 'investment' of nearly $8.2 billion, the majority of young people moving in and out of these facilities do not receive a high school education or effective job or societal reentry training.
Young people who have been incarcerated or otherwise court involved often have few opportunities to turn their lives around yet they hold great promise as leaders, problem solvers and investors in their communities. With an investment of $15,000 per participant, The Corps Network's Civic Justice Corps (CJC) offers an alternative (solution) for these deserving young people and their communities. Learning from an earlier CJC pilot involving 14 sites and 559 individuals, followed by similar programs in an additional 7 sites, confirmed the promise of CJC. In the initial pilot, 47% received GED/diploma, 79% were placed in jobs and/or postsecondary education at exit (72% retention) and, most impressively, the rate of recidivism was 10.2% (compared with the prevailing rate of 50-70%). Over 2,000 young people have been or are currently enrolled in CJC including a multi-year pilot funded by NYC Mayor Bloomberg's Commission on Economic Opportunity that includes random-assignment evaluation.
CJC offers a meaningful job, access to individually designed intensive supports and services, reengagement in education to attain GED/high school diplomas and industry recognized credentials, life and work skills development - all in preparation for postsecondary and employment success.
SEEKING: Financial Resources; Implementing Partners; Best Practice Information; Media/Marketing Opportunities
Financial resources are needed to leverage the additional investment required for taking Corps/CJC to scale, build capacity at the national and local levels to assure program integrity and support rigorous evaluation. Corporate/employer partners are needed to ensure rigorous and appropriate preparation in Corps and providing employment to graduates.
Universities, community colleges and training programs will influence program delivery and other services or employment based programs would also be sought to supplement program resources.
TCN is able to offer employers well- or even specifically trained employees for hire with industry recognized credentials and/or pre-apprentice qualifications.