Tabitha is taking over the position of program manager of DDS. In the last couple weeks she has been learning her roles and responsibilities, meeting with clients, and building relationships with sales representatives as well as employers. Tabitha had the opportunity to attend an event at the Department on Disability Services which brought together career counselors, self-advocates and family members of people with disabilities. In this meeting, member’s problem-solved how to break down the existing barriers to employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Jamaica recently restarted its Pre-High School Equivalency and Food Handling courses. Sharon has been busy preparing class materials and constantly adapting the curriculum to incorporate engaging activities that may relate to students. Inspired by the strength and individual motivation of each student, she is proud that some have already signed up to take the TASC exam and one of her students is about to receive his Food Handling license. When Sharon is not teaching classes, she is returning calls to clients who are interested in higher education and tutoring hardworking clients who stop by to ask math questions.
As the new grant year for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) begins, Matt and the rest of the HVRP team have been busy recruiting and enrolling new veterans into the program. Additionally, Matt has been helping to organize a career fair for the participants of several DC programs, including HVRP and the Department on Disability Services program (for which Tabitha, the other DC fellow, works). In preparation for the fair, Matt has been working closely with HVRP participants, ensuring that all veterans have professional clothing and updated resumes. The HVRP team hopes that after the fair, several veterans will have meaningful job prospects.
Ally has been splitting her time between the Bronx and 45th street offices.
The Work First Foundation is looking to expand its Bail Diversion Program nationally. Ally put together an info graphic for government officials who may want to institute a similar program. The Bail Diversion fits into larger criminal justice reforms, but is one of the only piloting immediate employment as bail diversion. It's extremely proactive and touches on conversations with participants she had in the Bronx who were having trouble finding employment after incarceration. Ally believes that while she can teach clients their rights, its harder to control what they are actually asked in an interview. If those clients were able to participate in the Bail Diversion Program, they might have had more favorable court outcomes, better financial situations and more employment contacts.
Milwaukee is striving to recruit more non-custodial parents to enroll in W-2 (Wisconsin Works). Many non-custodial parents do not know all of the benefits that come with enrolling in W-2, which includes helping with child support payments and rapid attachment to employment. We have recently released a radio ad putting our name out into the community in hopes of telling people who America Works is and what we stand for. Anne has attended and provided input to several meetings regarding recruitment efforts. She has been busy returning calls to individuals interested in learning more about America Works. She is also completing New Worker Training so that she can take on a caseload of her own!
Ilana Fitzpatrick, David Hamburger & Ramsey Daniels
The Brooklyn fellows successfully completed their first Pre-HSE cohort, a class designed to help clients successfully pass the TASC high school equivalency exam. The average person with a high school degree earns $10,000 a year more than those who do not have one. Thus, the importance of our class cannot be understated. As fellows, it's a real privilege to work with clients who are bravely conquering everything from Chemistry, to Geometry, and Economics, some after not being in school for decades. We have an absolute blast and have built a community in our classroom which has enabled clients to feel comfortable to ask questions, make mistakes, and have fun.
The Baltimore fellow is working on both the Ex-Offender Reentry Employment and the pretrial Bail Diversion programs. Baltimore has been receiving referrals from people who are involved in pretrial services as well as those who have been incarcerated for at least a year at any point in their lives and are looking for employment assistance and opportunities. Anjali has been working on a case by case basis with individual clients from both of these programs. She is doing her research on the bureaucratic factors that make it nearly impossible for system-involved individuals to re-obtain important documents like state IDs and Social Security cards post-release from prison or during the pretrial period post-arrest.
The Burlington County office in New Jersey has been hosting monthly job fairs since this spring. At these job fairs, 10-20 employers arrive to discuss their company and their open positions. Preparing these clients for the job fairs is an exciting effort; Bronwen assists them with anything from choosing attire, preparing resumes, and hosting mock-interviews. The job fair this past July was extra special, a previous Ticket to Work client was able to table for his new position. It was great to see his effort and positivity pay off. He now serves as a role-model for those currently in our program and demonstrates that you are truly better off working!
Working in the heart of midtown Manhattan, Patrick has loved his time in the 45th Street office. Patricks' responsibilities are less client-focused, yet there is never a shortage of work to be done. He often works directly work with America Works' Director of Business Analytics, Anthony Bozza, to help produce useful tools or reports for the rest of the company to use. Additionally, Patrick has also worked closely to support the Work First Foundation itself. Patrick also has had some client interaction, usually teaching once to twice a week in the back classrooms. Topics for classes include selling your strengths or introduction to web design. The central location of the 45th Street Office creates a unique experience for Patrick and looks forward to more opportunity in the next year.
The San Francisco office(s) are in a period of transition and Anna is working to support both justice-involved clients through meeting one on one to help with resume writing and applying to jobs and Ticket to Work clients, both in outreaching to people who are receiving disability and are eligible for the program, as well as reestablishing relationships with clients who have been involved in the past. Anna is also working to organize and decorate the new Harriet street office and has succeeded in creating a makeshift standing desk by stacking files I have yet to go through. She is drafting resources and a curriculum in advance of starting to teach two hour classes on both computer literacy and general job readiness at the 6th street office, which will allow her to continue to support justice-involved clients, while leaving more time to outreach and act as a case manager role through the Ticket to Work program.
America Works of Tennessee has just started a brand-new program, the Youth Year-Round Work Experience Program, which places youth ages 16-24 in part time employment and internships. Program participants work 20-25 hours a week in a job related to their field of interest. Youth develop skills related to professionalism, time management, communication, conflict management, and financial literacy. In the Memphis office, Courtney has been busy developing orientations for the program, networking with employers, and actively recruiting participants. When she is not working with the program, Courtney serves as the trainer assisting TANF recipients with resume prep and preparing them for job interviews. The most meaningful part of her job is watching clients achieve their employment goals. Courtney is thrilled to be a part of their journey!
In addition to his employment skills classes, Ben has also been teaching classes on computer/Microsoft basics and financial literacy. He has particularly enjoyed his financial literacy classes, which have consistently been attended by highly enthusiastic and engaged clients with quite a bit of their own knowledge and experience to share. Aside from these classes, Ben has been helping clients with their OSHA training every week. Thanks to the small size of the Staten Island office, he has had the opportunity to work on resumes, cover letters and interview skills with several clients individually.
Sarah works in the 5th Avenue and 45th Street offices, teaching financial literacy, employment skills, and resume building. The Manhattan offices work with a slightly older population of clients, and the 5th Avenue site is about to roll out a new Customer Service course. Recent employment skills classes have included giving your own TED talk, self compassion, confidence, and stress management.