WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration today announced the availability of approximately $5 million for 10 grants of up to $500,000 each to put specialized American Job Centers within county, municipal or regional correctional facilities. By doing so, the grants will support an integrated approach that links pre-release services directly to post-release services. The “Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release” initiative will fund the grants.
Every year, the U.S. Department of Justice reports, the nation’s more than 3,000 county and local jails release more than 9 million people. Many of these individuals have few job skills and face difficult barriers to stable employment. Without a strong support system or a steady job, many once incarcerated people are likely to commit new crimes and return to jail: a cycle of recidivism that recurs nationally.
In June 2015, the department awarded $10 million in grants for demonstration projects in 20 communities in 14 states to provide inmates with comprehensive services before release and ongoing support as they regain their place in the community when their incarceration ends.
One of those communities is Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez visited the Montgomery County Correctional Facility today as part of a “State of the Union: Cabinet in Your Community” tour. There, he observed demonstrations of the facility’s manufacturing and computer occupational skills training, and met participants in the pilot program to discuss their experiences.
“There is no such thing as a spare American,” said Secretary Perez. “We need to take people where we find them and help them overcome barriers. These grants strengthen our communities by integrating services already available in the community and building partnerships between local correctional systems and the local workforce systems.”
The LEAP initiative seeks to break down silos and help integrate two services already offered by local governments – correctional facilities and workforce development programs. In nearly every county, municipal or regional area, jail or correctional facilities are located near an American Job Center. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Labor funds approximately 2,500 centers, which local governments or non-profit organizations administer through local workforce investment boards.
LEAP aligns closely with the principles driving President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which seeks to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure that all young people can realize their full potential.
For additional information and to apply, read the full Funding Opportunity Announcement online on Grants.gov or click here.