How America Can Do More to Help Black Men Returning Home from Prison Find Jobs: Reflections on RecycleForce’s Trip to Capitol Hill
By Caitlin C. Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow
“In the summer of 2012, I had just been released from federal prison. I was staying in a halfway house and job hunting, but I really couldn’t come up with any work…It’s so hard to come home from prison and it shouldn’t be…A couple of men at the halfway house stumbled across RecycleForce and told me about it…RecycleForce took a chance with me and I pretty much try to take advantage of every opportunity they’ve given me.” — Robert Perry, RecycleForce
As March came to a close, RecycleForce staff, including former program participant Robert Perry, met up with the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) team in Washington, D.C. We were there to support the B.MORE Initiative’s efforts to champion policies that open doors to employment and economic advancement for low-income black men. Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, RecycleForce provides people returning home from incarceration with transitional jobs (TJ) in its revenue-generating recycling business and provides comprehensive supportive services so that returning citizens can overcome barriers to employment and successfully reenter their communities.
Robert Perry, a former RecycleForce program participant and now the organization’s Shipping and Receiving Coordinator, was integral in showing Indiana’s Congressional delegates why it’s important that they put their support behind employment programs and policies like banning the box that help low-income black men succeed in work.
In meetings with legislators in D.C., Robert was courageous enough to share the struggles he faced finding a job when he returned home from incarceration and how RecycleForce helped him become employed and advance in the workplace. In this interview, Robert opens up again to share RecycleForce’s impact on his life, reflect on his time in D.C., and make the case for why “banning the box” can help ensure that everyone who wants to work can find a job.
Interview by Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, NTJN
To celebrate Women’s History Month this March, the Institute for Black Male Achievement has been sharing women’s perspectives – mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, and leaders – on black male achievement. Since we love that idea, at the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) we want to highlight another one of the inspiring #Women4BMA this month, Page Bailey. Page is a member of our B.MORE Initiative’s Community of Practice doing amazing work in the field of black male achievement as the director of the Practitioners Leadership Institute (PLI) at the Center For Urban Families (CFUF). Located in Baltimore, Maryland, CFUF’s core mission is to strengthen urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success. Read on to learn more about Page, her work, and what motivates her commitment to black male achievement.
“This is Way Bigger than Me”: Connections to Success’ Damion Alexander Reflects on His Visit to Capitol Hill
At the end of February, staff and program participants from Connections to Success joined the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) in Washington, D.C., to support our B.MORE Initiative in opening doors to employment and economic advancement for low-income black men. Together, we made the rounds on Capitol Hill, speaking to delegates from Missouri and Kansas about how Connections to Success helps individuals with barriers to employment, including many African American men returning home from incarceration, transform their lives and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Damion Alexander, a Life Transformation Coach and Trainer at Connections to Success, played a central role in showing members of Congress how important it is for them to champion policies and programs that advance economic opportunity and strengthen families by helping low-income black men succeed in employment.
In this interview, Damion—who was on his first trip to D.C.—discusses the impact of his time on Capitol Hill; makes a policy pitch for reducing state-owed child support debts; and shares why he made a special stop at the Lincoln Memorial while exploring the city.
By Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, NTJN
In honor of Black History Month, the National Transitional Jobs Network is presenting a blog series around the past, present, and future of employment for black males. The first blog post of the series focused on KISRA, a member of the B.MORE Initiative‘s Community of Practice. This blog is a historical spotlight on Asa Philip Randolph, a Civil Rights advocate and pioneer within the labor movement. Read on to learn about how Randolph changed the black labor movement.