Interview

EMPLOYERS

The cost of recidivism to taxpayers is enormous. Reducing the overall recidivism rate by just 1 percentage point means Illinois would see nearly 600 fewer convictions and save more than $90 million over nine years. Certainly, employment is a major factor in allowing individuals to avoid the revolving door back into prison and successfully reintegrate into society, and companies that commit to hiring from the labor pool of formerly incarcerated individuals are doing a service to those individuals and to society as a whole.

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BREAKING THE CYCLE

Hiring people with a background is also in companies’ own best interest. Formerly incarcerated individuals can fill labor shortages in high-demand fields, and they tend to reward companies that have taken a chance on them with increased loyalty and lower turnover rates.

However, simply giving people a job isn’t enough. Re-entrance into the workforce after a prolonged absence presents a series of challenges, including an outdated skill set, the emergency of new industries, and evolving technologies. In addition, many individuals leave jail or prison lacking essential life skills, financial literacy, and employment readiness, making it less likely that they will succeed over the long term.

In Illinois alone, recidivism will cost taxpayers a projected $13.5 billion over the next five years. [1]A major factor in reducing recidivism is access to jobs that pay a living wage and provide benefits – yet 75 percent of those who are formerly incarcerated do not have a job within one year of their release.[2]

A labor shortage exists in various industries, impacting companies’ sustainability and acting as a drain on the economy. Meanwhile, the state and federal prison systems return 600,000 individuals to society every year who represent readily available talent.

People with a background are more loyal employees: According to a recent study by the ACLU, individuals who were previously incarcerated have a 12-14 percent lower turnover rate compared to other sources of candidates.[3]

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OUR APPROACH

HELPING INDIVIDUALS HELP THEIRSELVES

That’s where we come in. 2nd Opportunity provides the skills training that helps individuals reintegrate into society and acclimate to employment scenarios. This work includes skill building in communications, conflict resolution, trauma-induced behavior, financial literacy, and goal setting. The work is performed both during incarceration and upon release and includes ongoing peer support and mentoring. Companies looking to hire people with a background can work with us to provide this training to their candidates.

PROGRAM OFFERINGS

We recommend that you take our three courses in the sequence presented below. Because we believe the content is so valuable and don’t want you to miss any of it, we offer a discounted rate when you sign up for the three-course program bundle. Here’s what to expect for each:

A PATH FORWARD©

 

A program designed for those who are re-entering society after being released from jail or prison. The most comprehensive of our three courses, A Path Forward© includes two hours of video instruction, a 42-page workbook, and activities and quizzes to reinforce the material covered.

Your program presenter will guide you through:

  • Examining trauma and its impact on your behavior

  • Understanding the essential concepts and challenges of starting over

  • Defining what success means to you and what really matters in your life

  • Crafting your story and talking about your background on job interviews

  • Being part of a team and dealing with workplace conflict

  • And much more

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A PATH TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM©

 

A program designed to teach participants the fundamentals of finance needed to function in today’s world. The course includes 90 minutes of video instruction, a 23-page workbook, and activities and quizzes to ensure participants are absorbing the material.

Basic skills covered include: 

  • Budgeting

  • Operating a checking account

  • Paying taxes

  • Applying for financial aid

  • Filling out employment forms

  • Establishing credit

  • And much more

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VALUES-ALIGNED GOAL SETTING©

 

An interactive workshop designed to help people reevaluate and rebuild following incarceration by determining their values and setting attainable goals that will set them up for long-term success. Participants will have access to two hours of video instruction, a 35-page workbook, and quizzes, activities and goal-setting worksheets they can refer back to for years to come as they progress through their career and life goals.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Determine your values

  • Set “bedrock” and “building” goals

  • Identify potential obstacles to reintegrating into society

  • Develop and pursue a meaningful career path

  • And much more

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Dedicated Support Network

NETWORKS

Referrals for employment, housing, substance abuse counseling, and other essential support services.

TRAINING

Skills development courses, lectures and webinars.

SUPPORT GROUP

Virtual and In-person peer-to-peer meetings and connections.

MENTORING

One-on-one mentoring for those who need additional support.

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Get Started

If you didn’t have the opportunity to take 2nd Opportunity’s courses while in jail or prison, you can access them through our website and complete them at your own pace. Still have questions? Feel free to email us or call us at 847-257-2713.

Recent Success Stories

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Having spent years stuck in the vicious cycle of jail and rehab, Mike M. now believes that ‘anything is possible’ after taking 2nd Opportunity’s re-entry, financial literacy, and goal-setting classes during a stint in Kane County Jail.

Despite the challenges, Chicago business owner Tom Decker is on a mission to turn individuals with a background into committed, loyal employees.

Incarcerated for drug-related crimes, Peter Hoistad focuses on shaping the next chapter of his life–one hurdle at a time.

Incarcerated for a Survival Crime, Willette Benford Learns She Was Meant to Thrive