A Project by East Cascade Works (EC WORKS)

This grant will provide pre- and post-release job training and services to help reduce recidivism

Southwestern Oregon Workforce Investment Board

About the WorkSource Oregon Reentry Programs Project

The Oregon Workforce Partnership (OWP), in partnership with the Oregon Department of Corrections, announced a $3.8 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to provide pre-and post-release job training services to help formerly incarcerated people secure employment upon release, thereby reducing recidivism. In addition to this, the Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC) has awarded OWP a $1 million Workforce Ready: Innovation in Workforce Programs Grant. This grant is part of Future Ready Oregon, a $200 million investment package aimed at preparing Oregonians for high-demand careers in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology. The Workforce Ready Grant aims to support innovative workforce development programs, particularly those serving historically underserved communities.

With the awarded grants, OWP has contracted with EC Works to administer the grant by implementing the WorkSource Oregon Reentry (WSOR) model, staffing the program inside the state’s 12 prisons. The program aims to serve incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, providing them with Individual Employment Plans (IEPs) tailored to their unique needs. The WSOR model has already shown promising results in pilot projects, with nearly half of the released individuals entering employment with a median earning of $19 per hour.

Cultural Competency and Innovation

The program is designed with a focus on cultural competency, aligning with HECC’s Equity Lens. It also introduces new and innovative programming, such as the use of virtual reality technology for hands-on training in manufacturing. This innovation is particularly crucial as manufacturing is identified as a key industry for employment, especially for individuals with felony backgrounds.

Program Benefits and Impact

The WSOR program is expected to serve a minimum of 900 individuals over the next three years, at a cost of approximately $4,095 per person. The program not only benefits these job seekers but also addresses the desperate need for qualified workers in Oregon businesses. By aligning public resources and reducing duplication, the program contributes to the economic health of communities, reduces recidivism, and enhances community safety.