Utilizing the already established Gina's ATHENA Team leadership program (GAT), Ginas Team commits to train to graduates of this program in one of two tracks: 1) Entrepreneurial training to create self-directed business opportunities; or 2) sector specific on-the-job- training and certification to secure employment paying a living wage upon release.
These service will be provided in collaboration with city and state officials, university officials, workforce development staff, and specific businesses. Ginas Team will collaborate with the Thunderbird School of Global Management to screen applicants and direct them towards Tracks one or two.
The Thunderbird School of Global Management will provide an adapted version on their signature Dream Builders curriculum to facilitate entrepreneurial training for track one. Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) will provide computers with trained DreamBuilders aides to assist participants.
Applications will help identify qualified track one candidates, and participants will be selected through an interview process.
Graduates of the GAT program interested to pursue on-the job-training through track two will first complete a separate application. These applications will be given to interested companies to screen candidates. Upon interest in an applicant, ADC will allow the company representatives to enter prison to interview candidates for paid apprenticeship and job opportunities.
Before a candidate is released from prison, ADC assigns her a parole officer. That officer will be briefed on the program and introduced to the company officials where she has been accepted. Each person will receive a packet containing conditions of employment.
Weekly mentorship will be provided to participants, using a pool of Thunderbird, Arizona State University, and community volunteers. Gina's Team provides an existing track record with ADC and a successful program inside prison.
Ultimately, this Commitment seeks to place 48 graduates in paid apprenticeships and jobs upon their release from prison.
Aug/Sept 2015: Hire & train facilitators for prison classes. Work with local businesses to educate about hiring former prisoners. Recruit mentors.
Sept 2015: Meet at prison with program graduates to explain CGI program in relation to Ginas Team. Applications will be distributed to interested inmates and discussed.
Oct 2015: Second meeting to pick up applications and discuss the process. Explain how training tracks one & two will be rolled out.
Track one: Ginas Team will review applications and select candidates to begin DreamBuilder program in the prison.
Track two: Ginas Team will review applications, provide finalists to the companies involved for their approval, coordinate access with the prison for final interviews.
January July 2016: GAT classes, the two track programs, and job interviews will be ongoing as graduates are released from prison. Ginas Team seeks to place four women in paid apprenticeships or jobs each through the end of this commitment. Recruitment of partner employers and fund raising will continue on an ongoing basis to grow the programs.
The number of women entering the prison system has increased over 600% in the past two decades. To boot, incarcerated women are typically under-educated, low-skilled, desperate for a drug-free life, a job at a living wage, and reunification with their families (ACLU).
According to Pew Research Center, the majority of women in prison85% to 90%have a history of being victims of violence prior to their incarceration, including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and child abuse. Prison programs, both educational and vocational, are seriously lacking as they often fail to link skills training with support that seeks to empower women.
Released from prison with no money or training, returning inmates find their financial needs and responsibilities are enormous. They suddenly have to pay rent for a halfway house, fees, fines, restitution, transportation, food, clothes, and hygiene. Applying for a job or an apartment often means checking the box saying that they have been convicted of a felony. This admittance often excludes returning women from consideration for work or housing.
If street enterprises such as drug dealing and prostitution are the only available source of income, returning citizens will very quickly be back on the street and primed to return to prison. Society fails to realize the overwhelming roadblocks placed in front of former inmates. Rarely are they considered returning citizens. They arent seeking to rebuild a life; they must create a completely new and different one, one that requires a paradigm shift in thinking. The key to their success is a stable job that will provide a living wage and all that allows.
Since 2011 Ginas Team has worked with incarcerated women to help restore their lives. 510 women have graduated from the Gina's ATHENA Team leadership program, 334 have been released, only 17 have returned. This is an unprecedented 6% recidivism rate.