Category: Uncategorized

 

Jun 9, 2018

 

As an ex-offender, Kasim Ward is thankful for the opportunity to have a second chance.

The 20-year-old is currently tapping into OIC of Americas, Inc.’s re-entry program named SOAR (Skills and Opportunities for Achievement and Responsibility). Through its affiliate network, OICA aims to reduce recidivism by helping formerly incarcerated young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 successfully transition back into their communities.

“I appreciate the whole idea of reentry,” Ward said, as he spoke during an event held Friday afternoon to mark Re-entry Month and celebrate SOAR’s first year anniversary. “I learned from my mistakes. I made some mistakes that doesn’t truly represent me as an individual, but reentry has allowed me to be a better man for my daughter, for my family and for my community. I’m learning. I’m prospering, I’m building. I’m restoring myself.”

Community members, elected officials, corporate officials and OIC staff turned out for the celebration.

“Were in the business of changing lives and providing second chances,” said James Haynes, the president of the OICA and national board chair.

The SOAR program is currently being offered through seven OICA affiliates, including Philadelphia OIC.

“The national recidivism rate is 76.6 percent and this is unacceptable and this is why programs such as SOAR are so vital and so needed in Philadelphia and around the country,” said Charles Crumbley III, interim president of Philadelphia OIC.

“The best way to reduce recidivism is by meeting the returning citizen where he or she is at that stage in their lives and being a conduit to resources. Whether its basic fundamentals such as providing food, or transportation, educational life skills and vocational training, we do our best to meet the needs of our clients so that they can focus on acquiring the skills that they need to live sustainable lives.”

Philadelphia OIC currently has 60 SOAR program participants and seeks to have 120 people enrolled by the end of June. The organization is currently training participants for jobs in the areas of culinary arts, hospitality, retail and welding.

OICA received $9 million in federal grants for its affiliates to offer SOAR 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 leading to industry-recognized credentials, workforce activities that lead to employment and nine months of follow-up activities.

OICA has formed partnerships with various organizations such as Uplift Solutions and Amachi, Inc. to conduct re-entry work.

During the press conference, state Rep. Curtis Thomas (D-Phila.) spoke about the importance of ensuring that returning citizens are able to become productive community members.

“Criminal justice in America is not about rehabilitation,” Thomas said. “It’s about punishment and hoping that punishment will teach others to avoid doing the same thing, but at the end of the day they are coming home and we’ve got to make sure that they are able to become productive members of their families, their communities, the city of Philadelphia and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

As part of the SOAR celebration, OICA held a job and resource fair at its Broad Street headquarters featuring employers, community service partners and justice partners.

 

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

Memorial Day Tribute

We offer the below message which was authored by Brandon Wilson and Scott Rodgers

from our affiliate in Asheville, North Carolina:

 

Memorial Day Thoughts

This Memorial Day, we thank God for all who served, who sacrificed, who stood a post.  They are the 2 percenters!  Not because of wealth, power, or fame; but, because they took an oath and defended our freedoms.  These brave men and women only represent 2% of the country but defend 100% of our freedoms, our culture, our politic, and our families.

Being a Veteran is not a one way street of all dedication and sacrifice.  It is a two way street with the Military’s investment in each Veteran of skills, responsibility, duty, and the intrinsic value of being part of a larger community and/or family. That is why slogans like “once a marine, always a marine” are familiar to all of us as each branch instilled a sense of pride in being part of a community.  This two-way street, where man or woman invests in their country and their country invests in them, affirms that every person in our country has value and deserves our investment in their potential.

OIC believes in that fundamental value that “every” person has value, has potential.  We thank God for every OIC Affiliate who offers that “opportunity” to build a new skill, complete a certification or licensure, or who opens the door to the job of their dreams or a chance to climb the career ladder.  Veteran or non-veteran, OIC invests in persons to instill a sense of belonging to a culture of work, a culture of family, a culture of community. 

Our OIC Affiliates and Partners are producing outcomes where men and women provide the basic necessities and basic values for their family, provide strength for their community, and provide honor for the country.

 We salute all those Veterans who serve our country. We want all Veterans to know that OIC is appreciative of their sacrifices in protecting our fundamental freedoms and our way life and we stand with them and are prepared to invest in them to build on their skills to fill the skills gaps in our workforce so that they can fill gaps in our communities as strong leaders and family members.

 We also salute another kind of veteran, those who have years of dedicated service at OIC and those who are dedicated to serving their neighbor and building a stronger community through OIC of America. We honor all who are building stronger lives, stronger families, and stronger communities.  It’s not a slogan, its way of working and living and growing together, so we stand together with the two percenters who stand for freedom and justice.  This Memorial Day, let a Veteran know we stand with them.

James Haynes, President & CEO, OICA

OIC Resource & Reentry Job Fair

This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The product was created by the recipient and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it.

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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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