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New Workforce Development Program Coming to Erie County Jail

by cmceachon

Fourth Federal Second Chance Act for Peaceprints of WNY

Sat, Oct 15th 2022 12:00 pm

Buffalo, NY — Reentry service provider Peaceprints of WNY revealed plans today to pilot out a workforce development program at Alden Correctional Facility. The Workforce Development program will supplement the existing program Project Blue. The announcement comes just days after Peaceprints revealed the details of a separate Federal Second Chance Act Award to grow a separate program, Empower Youth. The workforce development grant marks the fifth Second Chance Act Grant to be awarded to Erie County and the fourth for Peaceprints. The $900,000 investment, awarded across three years will connect 100 individuals incarcerated in Erie County’s Alden Correctional Facility with career training and job placement assistance.


A workforce development component is the latest addition to Project Blue, which was developed in 2018 in collaboration with Erie County Sheriff’s Office and has since expanded to serve all individuals incarcerated in Erie County jails. This new phase of the program was developed to prepare justiceinvolved individuals with skills they can utilize to fill gaps in the local labor market upon their release. Industry-specific curriculum, developed in partnership with local employers, will be offered to Project Blue participants clients during incarceration so they can be pipelined into employment upon release.


“We know that access to quality work and higher wages is one of the greatest deterrents to further justice-involvement”, says Erie County Sheriff John Garcia, “yet what we see is that folks leaving the county jail aren’t prepared with the skills to secure these jobs. The rate of unemployment among those who have been incarcerated is high, and it’s even higher for people of color. The result is that people return to the community, but end up recidivating. This expansion to Project Blue will change that, and we at the Erie County Sheriff’s Office are delighted to help facilitate this great work.”


“The pandemic permanently shifted the employment landscape,” says Cindi McEachon, CEO of Peaceprints of WNY “and in doing so, I think many employers shifted their mindset about working with individuals who have been previously incarcerated. Employers were approaching us. Many industries are experiencing labor shortages but are struggling to find candidates with the specific qualifications required to do the work. Our clients have time to learn new skills while they are incarcerated and need well-paying jobs when they’re back in the community. This expansion was the next logical step for Project Blue.”


“I want to thank Peaceprints for launching this pilot workforce development program,” said Erie County Legislature Chair April N. M. Baskin. “Matching small business owners with individuals newly released from the Alden Correctional Facility will bridge the void between employers struggling with the post-COVID workforce shortage and those seeking to reform their lives through gainful employment. I also want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Erie County Legislature who supported my call to develop a detainee to jobs program in Erie County.”


Since launching the partnership in 2018 through a $1 million Federal Second Chance Act grant, Project Blue has served over 500 individuals with a recidivism rate of 9%, decidedly less than the Erie County recidivism rate of 81% and the national recidivism rate of 67%. The program provides intensive preand post- release case management and follow-along, mentorship, service linkage, court advocacy, workshops and classes, and access to basic needs. Clients are enrolled in comprehensive educational and employment services, have access to healthcare services, receive wraparound services, housing coordination, and more. For more information, call (716)856-6131 or visit: www.peaceprintswny.org




About Peaceprints of WNY: Since 1985, Peaceprints of WNY has been committed to providing comprehensive reentry services that promote social justice and equity. We recognize that no two individuals are the same, and that circumstances, abilities, and needs of the people we help vary greatly. Services include transitional, supportive and independent housing, intensive case management, youth programming, in-prison workshops and support groups, as well as education and workforce development programs designed to empower and equip returning citizens with the tools necessary to transform their lives and reclaim their stake as contributing members of our community