Category: News

Chester County OIC getting new headquarters

Nov 19, 2018

COATESVILLE — Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell recently presented a check for $300,000 to representatives of Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Center.

The funds, made available through a community development block grant, have been used to purchase a new primary office location for Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Center in the City of Coatesville.

“It is great to be back home!” said Joyce Chester, Chester County OIC president and CEO. “The City of Coatesville is where Chester County OIC began nearly 40 years ago,” she said. “The opportunity to come back into the City from West Chester was the perfect move for us, and it is the first time that we will own our own home.”

“We thank the Chester County Commissioners and the county’s Department of Community Development for making this dream come true,” she added.

Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Center’s vision is to be leaders in improving the lives of disadvantaged adults by creating educational and employment opportunities.

Along with ongoing programs offered by Chester County OIC, including GED, English Language Acquisition and Certified Nurse Aid, the organization’s new SOAR re-entry program — a strategy that addresses the range of challenges faced by formerly incarcerated young adults who are trying to make a successful transition back into their communities — will serve as a resource to youth ages 18-24 in Coatesville and throughout the County.

Chester County OIC’s new location is 22 N. 5th Avenue, Coatesville, PA 19320.

History of the BookyMobile

Submitted by:  Jeffrey C. Woodyard, Executive Director of Tri-County OIC

In 2008, Tri-County OIC created the OIC BookyMobile – a travelling bookmobile for kids and adults. The idea of the BookyMobile started when the OIC executive director realized that many low-income children and their parents did not have access to enough books at home. Schools were struggling to provide books to students and access to libraries was limited to those who lacked transportation and resources.

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PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: July 20, 2018
Contact: Naja Killebrew, Communications Manager
Phone: 215-236-4500 (w), 215-518-6558 (c)
Email: nkillebrew@oicofamerica.org
Website: www.oicofamerica.org

OIC of America Awarded Two U.S. Department of Labor Reentry Grants Totaling $8,787,369
SOAR program expands from seven to eleven affiliates and program partners in seven states

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As the president and CEO of Opportunities Industrialization Center of America, Inc. (OIC) James Haynes is focused on re-energizing the historic workforce development organization.

Founded in 1964 by the Rev. Leon Sullivan, OIC was created to address the lack of education and job training programs available to minorities in Philadelphia so they may prepare themselves and become part of a highly skilled workforce. Today, the national organization has 34 affiliates in 22 states.

Haynes, a retired Johnson & Johnson executive and United States Army veteran, has been leading the nonprofit entity since October 2016. He has been affiliated with the organization for more than 20 years, having previously served as a member at-large and first vice chair of the board.

“The reason why I’ve been a part of this organization for so long is because I believe in what Leon Sullivan was doing,” Haynes said during an interview at OIC’s Philadelphia-based headquarters.

After taking the helm of OIC, Haynes focused on addressing the nonprofit’s financial challenges. At the time, the nonprofit faced difficulties as its federal grant funding dried up and it was forced to reduce its staff.

“This organization was pretty much close to closing its doors — not at the affiliate level, but at the national office level,” Haynes explained.

Now OIC is in the midst of experiencing a renewal.

“It’s almost like we are starting again — starting anew,” Haynes said.

Haynes seeks to strengthen the link between the national organization and its network of affiliates. He often does site visits so that he can interact with affiliate representatives.

“There is a belief that a strength in numbers is of value to us as an organization,” Haynes explained.

“We’re just trying to put a face to the national office people understand and can appreciate, that has a little different thinking on how it can be run.” he said. “While we ride on the heels of the legacy of the organization, we also believe that the population base is different and we have to change. Change is inevitable.”

Through its network of affiliates, OIC offers more than 150 programs in the areas of vocational training, work readiness, education, health care, youth development and re-entry.

The nonprofit seeks to address the problem of recidivism through its national re-entry program named SOAR (Skills and Opportunities for Achievement and Responsibility). The program helps formerly incarcerated young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 successfully transition back into their communities.

“I want us to be considered as the foremost thought leader for re-entry work in terms of being able to return people back into the environment and making them more productive,” Haynes said.

“They satisfied their debts in terms of incarceration but what we also find is that there are probably 630,000 people that return back to an area where the cards are stacked against them.”

OIC received $9 million in federal grants for its affiliates to offer the program in Philadelphia; Harrisburg; Clark County, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minn.; Newark, N.J.; and Miami.

Program participants are enrolled during a period ranging from six to 12 months depending on their educational background. They receive case management, education and training that leads to industry-recognized credentials, workforce activities that lead to employment and nine months of follow-up activities.

“These are people who have paid their dues and if we want to fix the crime we have to allow them to reintegrate back into society at a livable (wage),” said Letitia Crippin, OIC program coordinator. “It is critical what we are doing.”

OIC will celebrate Re-entry Month and the one-year anniversary of SOAR by hosting a re-entry job and resource fair on Friday from noon to 3 p.m. at the Leon H. Sullivan Human Services Center, 1415 N. Broad St. The resource fair will bring more than 22 employers and service organizations together in support of the re-entry community.

The event kicks with a press conference featuring various speakers including the Rev. Wilson Goode, former mayor and president of Amachi, Inc.; Buddy Hall Sr., SOAR program manager; Charles Crumbley III, interim president & CEO, Philadelphia OIC; Mable Welborn, Sullivan Charitable Trust chair; City Council President Darrell Clarke; State Rep. Curtis Thomas; and Gerald Alston, Grammy Award-winning musician & OIC’s pioneer celebrity ambassador.

Ayana Jones Tribune Staff Writer

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OIC is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization preparing people for today's workforce with quality life skills development, fundamental education, superior job skills training, and employment readiness services.

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