Justice-involved Delawareans — those who are on parole or probation, or post-release — need stable career pathways to thrive.
Accordingly, to connect them with opportunities in high-growth sectors like IT and healthcare, Wilmington Alliance and JPMorgan Chase have launched the Second Chance Employment Collaborative.
A majority of employers ask about past convictions while screen applicants for job opportunities, which can make it harder for those with criminal backgrounds to find work. The new collaborative will offer legal aid and workforce development resources, and will work directly with employers to help get justice-involved individuals into stable jobs.
“There are roughly 80,000 Delawareans who have a criminal record for low-level crimes,” said Renata Kowalczyk, CEO of Wilmington Alliance, in a statement. “That means they are unnecessarily shut out from accessing sustainable employment to support themselves and their families. Meanwhile, many employers in our state are growing rapidly and in need of qualified talent. Our goal is to close that gap.”
The collaborative aims to screen 300 justice-involved individuals over the next two years, and place 50. In addition to digital skills training, participants will also learn about expungement and waiver processes.
Other organizations in the collaborative include Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, Wilmington HOPE Commission, Delaware Center for Justice and Project New Start. JPMorgan Chase has committed to a $1 million philanthropic investment over two years for the project.
JPMorgan Chase has itself stopped asking about criminal history in job applications (known as “banning the box”) to ensure that qualified applicants with criminal backgrounds with no bearing on job requirements receive the same consideration as other applicants.
“We are happy to be working on one accord in Delaware,” said Tom Horne, Delaware market leader for JPMorgan Chase. “Our firm invested in the development of Delaware Prosperity Partnership’s new strategic plan to build a more inclusive tech talent pipeline. One way that we can make even more progress on that plan is through the work of this Collaborative which has the ability to make second chances a reality for many.”
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