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Robert Coleman, executive director of the Second Chance program, offers tips and resources for the “hardest to employ.”

First, please tell me about Second Chance.

Second Chance is dedicated to creating opportunities for self-sufficiency. We provide workforce readiness training and job placement programs, as well as wrap-around services that include supportive housing, mental health, and financial literacy to youth, adults, veterans, former substance abusers and formerly incarcerated persons. Our clients come from all walks of life and through the program these individuals are given a second chance at success.

Can you share some specific success stories?

There are countless examples of the Second Chance program’s success, such as a woman named Angie Elsbury, who came to the program with a history of drug addiction, incarceration, and custody battles. She graduated from our program and now works at a local Vons supermarket as the meat department manager.

What can you tell me about the Job Readiness training program?

The Job Readiness program develops appropriate workplace behavior, effective interviewing, job search techniques, and a positive outlook toward working and employment. Using the nationally recognized STRIVE training model, we take four weeks to provide a tough-love boot camp to get Second Chance clients ready for employment. We focus on “soft skill training” which means participants will learn everything from interviewing techniques and behavior modification, to the proper handshake, and résumé building.

The program runs for four weeks, offered at no cost to participants.

How does one get involved in this program? What are the eligibility requirements and the application process?

The Job Training program is open to everyone and anyone who thinks they can benefit from it. There is no application process to get involved with Second Chance, just an initial interview to gauge your attitude and willingness to devote yourself to the program. The program is designed to lead participants to permanent employment and self-sufficiency. To succeed, you have to want it.

What kind of success rates do you have for people who have completed the program? Do they find jobs?

Seventy percent of Second Chance graduates find employment within three months of graduation. One year later, 70% of those graduates remain employed for at least two years after completing the workforce training. To date, we have graduated 5,000 individuals who are now working and paying taxes.

Let’s say someone doesn’t quite meet all the requirements for the program. Can you offer some other ideas or resources to help aid him/her in the job search process?

That really is not an issue for us. Our doors are wide open to anyone who is willing to commit and who has the attitude to succeed. We want to be that aid to getting you back on your feet and into the workforce.

I imagine the struggle doesn’t end even for those who do manage to find work. Do you offer follow-up courses or counseling?

Second Chance provides a lifetime pledge of follow-up support to alumni who are always welcome to return to the agency if they lose their job or confront a crisis that threatens self-sufficiency. In addition, we offer each client a two-year commitment of follow-up services including mental health counseling, affordable housing placement, job placement services, professional clothing for interviews, and case management.

What kind of advice would you offer to someone who is just beginning with the starting-over process?

I think the best thing I can tell people is to be open and willing to learn, to be teachable. Do not be pigeon-holed by the past; don’t define yourself by the past but by the opportunities of the future. Come to Second Chance where we will give you a great start as you journey into success and a new life.

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