It’s not a qualification most businesses have in mind, but some companies are seeing big time value in hiring men and women who were once behind bars.

Uplift Workforce Solutions is a program designed to provide training and employment opportunities for re-entering citizens in and around Philadelphia to successfully reintegrate.  The program focuses on developing both hard and soft skills of the re-entering citizens; whereas, each participant that successfully completes the six-week classroom portion of the program will be directly hired by a partner employer.

“Searching for a job with a criminal record is overwhelming and finding employment is one of the greatest barriers to successful reintegration.  A good job is key to keeping people from returning to prison.”-Barry Johnson, Workforce Director.

One of Uplift’s hiring partners is Brown’s Superstore.  The President and CEO of Brown’s Superstores, Jeff Brown has promised to hire every graduate. “You need an extraordinary amount of motivation to pull yourself up from being a felon because of these obstacles,” he said. “Right off the bat, you can see a person who needs to do it, who must do it, verses one who is indifferent. The story of someone who is going to be successful is that the reason they need to be successful is beyond themselves. It’s family, children, setting an example for their kids, supporting their spouses, often a belief in a higher power.”

Still skeptical about hiring formally incarcerated?   Here’s more incentive.

-Research shows that re-entering citizens are loyal employees.  After having doors closed, you open yours and they will look out for you because you gave them a chance.

-They are being trained and come to you with a valuable skill.  The training teaches soft skills which includes discipline and hard work.

-Finding a job out of prison is not easy for them…once they are hired they are motivated to be a long-term employee and tend to be the employees who get promoted first. They value the chance you gave them and will stay with you longer.

-Finally, hire formally incarcerated men and women you may qualify for tax incentive that will go to your bottom line.

One Workforce Cohort said it best when she spoke at a recent graduation.  “Because of you, because you opened doors for us, we respect that…and we are grateful to you. I’m going to say this to you — we’re going to make you proud.”

The Workforce Solutions program is a six-week training program that provides life skills, job readiness, and technical training to re-entering citizens.  In the first four weeks of training, participants develop the skills necessary to self-evaluate and become self-aware; how to effectively work with others; how to effectively resolve conflict; and how to provide exceptional customer service and sales.  During this time, participants can roleplay the new behaviors.

Uplift Executive Director, Atif Bostic- “We are creating opportunities where they don’t exist.    It’s not about second chances.  It’s about creating opportunities where they don’t exist. We want people who will be good employees.  We are giving people a chance at living the American dream.”