On October 26, 2021, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) held a paneled discussion about the effect of subsidized employment, transitional jobs, and employment social enterprise on communities and individuals.

The panel included four individuals who talked about their personal experiences with the positive impact of subsidized transitional employment. Three of the four individuals had previously been incarcerated and had no prior employment experience. Jonathan Jones, the Commissioner of Youth and Workforce Services for Albany, led the panel through a Q&A about pay, new skills the individuals learned from employment, resources, and advice for future programs.

All panelists spoke about the newfound hope they gained from their companies. Some panelists, like Robert Smith from the Recycling Force of Indiana, reflected on peer mentorships through their companies. Robert reflected on the motto peer mentors promote, live day by day and don’t let the past bring you down. Having a peer mentor was monumental for Robert since he was able to see success from someone who had originally been in his position. Inspiringly, Robert now thrives in Recycling Force and is a peer mentor.
Heather Tincher from Coalfield Development and Daryl Leverett from Summer Youth Employment, talked about how learning skills through their company increased their confidence and vision of self-worth. In particular, Heather detailed her inspiring journey of returning to society after addiction because of Coalfield Development. She reflected on her personal growth as originally coming in without a bank account, housing, or transportation, and now she has savings, is successfully recovering, owns her own car and apartment, and works in a managerial position at Coalfield.

Although the pay from these employment opportunities has allowed each panelist to obtain tangible items, all panelists stressed that the most important part of their program has been the relationships and personal growth. One of the panelists, Konrad Cowell from CEOWorks, noted that he is now “career minded” and learned how to evolve his passions into different careers and helping others. In fact, CEOWorks helped Konrad publish his own book, Blurred Visions, the Making of At-Risk Youth, about his life struggles leading him to incarceration.

As a final word, each panelist urged the government to invest more money into these programs, as each of their organizations have turned their life around for the better.