At the Second Chance Initiative we believe that everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of their past.
We're on a mission to help people build new lives for themselves. At the heart of it all: creating transitional employment opportunities that empower people to take control of their future.
What we're doing
Without a path to self-sufficiency, people cannot truly turn their lives around. We exist to address that problem. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to empowering and employing women in recovery while removing the stigma associated with these life experiences. We are a unique hybrid organization with two arms:
- A social enterprise that directly creates transitional employment opportunities for community members who are working towards self-sufficiency after overcoming adversities like addiction, homelessness or incarceration.
- An advocacy organization dedicated to fighting the stigma and prejudices that interfere with our clients finding gainful employment in the traditional workforce.
Who are we helping?
The women we employ with have spotty employment histories, often including criminal backgrounds, which make them unlikely candidates for traditional roles. This leads to a clear problem: we have people who are hungry to show that they are more than their past, but no chance to prove themselves.
We aim to be the launching pad where they can begin working towards a brighter future, thus breaking the cycle of shame and hopelessness that perpetuates relapse and recidivism.
A key component of breaking this cycle is changing the conversation. We do not see the people we will work with as powerless victims. We see them as empowered survivors who have already taken the hardest step: they’ve decided they want something different for their future and are working to make that happen. We know that they do not want handouts. They want the chance to stand on their own two feet. We want to give them a hand-up.
How we’re doing it
The women we hire begin earning paychecks on day one. However, we know that people need more than a paycheck to be successful. Therefore, we also deliver:
- Work history and a reference - It is universally acknowledged that it is easier to find a job when you already have a job. Every client we’ve employed to date has had significant gaps in their employment history due to the adversities they’ve experienced, including some with gaps for multiple years. Based on our transitional employment approach, modeled after the successful program The Lord’s Place has developed, we aim to have clients with us for 9-12 months before they’re prepared to pursue their next step, thus building a sustainable and scalable system of creating jobs for people seeking a second chance. This system makes it easier for employers in the traditional workforce to hire our clients, as they’re able to show they’ve successfully maintained employment in the past year and have a reference to vouch for them.
- Skills training - We have been committed to helping our clients build transferable skill sets since we launched and recently secured a grant from the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties that enables us to expand our offerings. The grant is being used to launch a Digital and E-Commerce Training Program for our clients, which we developed in response to direct requests from our target population. Program participants will gain skills in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel); Adobe Creative Studio (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator); Etsy e-commerce management; Search engine optimization; Social media management, including Instagram and Facebook; and General digital literacy. This results in a win-win: our clients will be able to list these skills and experiences on their resumes, thus securing access to employment opportunities that would otherwise be closed to them, while also bringing much needed skill sets to local businesses.
- A safe and supportive workplace - Since all of our clients are in the process of overcoming behavioral health challenges, we acknowledge that they have very real problems outside of the office. In response, we have intentionally built a safe and open workplace to support them through the chaos that frequently accompanies early recovery. Clients have remarked that our office environment feels more like a recovery meeting than a typical workplace, which we consider a compliment.
- Flexibility - Similarly, our clients often require more scheduling flexibility than a traditional workplace would be able to provide. Wellness comes first for us, so we make sure our clients are able to make medical and dental appointments and continue with outside programming, such as case management and recovery meetings.
As a transitional employment opportunity, we aim to have team members with us for 9-12 months before they’re prepared to pursue their next step, thus building a sustainable and scalable system of creating jobs for people seeking a second chance.
The big picture
Every single one of us has needed a second chance. No matter who we are, no matter what our story, we’ve needed to start over at some point.
Personally, I (Keely, our Founder) needed exactly the same opportunity as our team members: my own story includes getting out of treatment, struggling to find a job because of my background and only truly turning my life around when I was given a second chance.
Here’s what we believe:
- Your past does not define your future
- There is no shame in starting over
- Seeking a second chance is a sign of strength and people who do so deserve to be celebrated
So, here’s to every time any of us have been brave enough to start over, and here’s to creating opportunities for others to do the same.