Holistic Services: A Recipe for Success in Helping Homeless Youth Get + Keep Jobs

By David Applegate, Policy and Advocacy Assistant, NTJN


This month, the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) is highlighting an organization that’s been leading the way in the fight to end youth homelessness for over forty years: Daybreak. Located in Dayton, Ohio, Daybreak was founded in 1975 by volunteers who realized that young people who had been kicked out of their homes or had run away needed a safe place to stay at night.

Originally an emergency shelter for homeless youth, Daybreak’s operations have evolved and expanded over time.  As Daybreak’s Chief Executive Officer, Linda Kramer, puts it, “Our work is no longer just about housing the 15 year-old runaway but trying our best to address each individual’s oftentimes extensive and complex needs.”  Today, Daybreak offers street outreach, housing, education, mental health, and employment services—including transitional jobs—to help youth get and stay housed.  

In this interview, Linda shares more about the need for a holistic approach when addressing the needs of homeless youth and tells us all about Daybreak’s innovative approach to increasing employment opportunities for youth via their creative transitional jobs program. Read More…

Innovations in State Child Support Policy: A Smarter Way to Support Children and Fathers

By James Jones, B.MORE Initiative Coordinator, NTJN

Fathers Day

“Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.” – President Barack Obama (Father’s Day 2008)

This Father’s Day, we reflected on the selfless efforts of dads all across the country.  Fathers play a unique and important role in the lives of their children, spouses, and co-parents.  That role, however, can be undermined by stereotypes that relegate the breadth of a father’s contributions solely to provider or family breadwinner—stereotypes that have helped drive policies that marginalize low-income men who are unable to financially support their children and families.

In particular, low-income, noncustodial African American men are often depicted as dead beat dads—a negative narrative that is not supported by any empirical evidenceThe reality is that low-income African American men are often penalized by a web of child support policies and enforcement practices that were designed to collect revenue from noncustodial parents who were financially able, yet sometimes unwilling, to help support their families.  The impact of these “one-size-fits-all” policies is that families at the lowest end of the income spectrum tend to suffer severely.

In keeping with states like Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin and others, we encourage state child support enforcement agencies and entities serving low-income noncustodial fathers to implement innovative policies that help fathers meet their obligations while meeting their own basic needs, and help lift families out of poverty by helping parents succeed in employment.   This blog takes a longer look at states that are doing just that—and provides policy recommendations that we hope will help spur  innovation in a greater number of states. Read More…

Growing Careers: FarmWorks Combines Transitional Jobs + Contextualized Learning  

By Caitlin C. Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow, NTJN

Mini jpeg

With the weather in Chicago (finally!) warming up, the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) team traveled to East Garfield Park to visit FarmWorks, an urban farm developed by Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS) that provides transitional jobs (TJ) to low-income residents overcoming barriers to employment.  Splitting their time between the farm and the Greater Chicago Food Depository, transitional workers develop employable skills in urban farming, landscaping, and warehousing and distribution.

While the workers gain experience that will help them obtain entry-level work, FarmWorks realizes that entry-level jobs are a first step, not an end goal, for TJ participants.  “HHCS has run TJ programming for many years, and we’ve also been working on enhancements to the TJ model to ensure participant success in career pathways that lead to self-sufficiency,” says Jay Landau, HHCS’ Director of Education and Program Development.  To this end, FarmWorks has integrated its TJ program with a contextualized adult learning curriculum so that workers can build literacy and numeracy skills along with knowledge of career pathways with family-sustaining wages.

With FarmWorks’ strategy already showing positive results, the NTJN sat down with Jay and Dave Snyder, FarmWorks’ Program Manager, to talk about how this promising program design can help workers succeed and advance on the job.    Read More…

A Social Enterprise Helps Lift Young Moms out of Poverty

By Caitlin C. Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow, NTJN


In honor of Mother’s Day, the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) recently caught up with Bright Endeavors, a social enterprise that’s hard at work selling first-rate candles and bath products and changing young mothers’ lives. Bright Endeavors is a part of New Moms, Inc., a Chicago-based social service agency that helps adolescent mothers experiencing or at risk of homelessness move toward economic independence.  Employment is an essential part of this formula.

Through transitional jobs at Bright Endeavors, young women develop critical skills such as teamwork, leadership, and conflict management while working for a real business that is supported by sales revenue.  John Guido, Bright Endeavors’ Manager of Sales and Business Development, agrees that offering employment training in a social enterprise setting raises the stakes for staff and participants, but he’s confident Bright Endeavors’ young moms are on-track to succeed.  “Our participants continually amaze all of us at Bright Endeavors,” says John. “The steps they’re taking to improve their futures speak to the strength of the human spirit.”  Read on to learn more about this mom-friendly (and eco-friendly!) social enterprise that’s dedicated to transforming the lives of at-risk young women and their children.

Read More…

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.

Read More…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers