EMERGE Connecticut, Inc. is a self-sufficient Social Enterprise that operates a Transitional Employment Program for recently released ex-offenders in the Greater New Haven area. Our goal is to provide our participants with the opportunity to end the pattern of recidivism. EMERGE crewmembers are offered paid, part-time training in construction, landscaping and property management while at the same time engaging in an array of unpaid program components designed to promote behavioral change. This combination of on-the-job training and program services has proven successful with New Haven’s re-entry population since July of 2011 by helping our participants return to their families as responsible members, and their communities as law-abiding, contributing citizens.
In July of 2011, EMERGE Connecticut, Inc., began a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that operates as a social enterprise committed to helping formerly incarcerated persons make a successful return to their families as responsible members, and to their communities as law-abiding, contributing citizens. EMERGE uses the methods, strategies and disciplines of business, and the power and opportunities of the marketplace to advance its social impact. What makes EMERGE unique among local nonprofits is the significant levels of self-generated income from business activities that are used to fund the organization’s operations. Our “Earn and Learn” model provides each participant with the experience of learning marketable work skills, appropriate employment behaviors, and improving their basic educational skills within a workplace environment, while earning an income within the framework of a transitional work component that can last as long as six (6) months.
EMERGE has implemented an innovative, trauma-responsive model that uses paid work experience to recruit and engage former offenders returning to New Haven, Connecticut. Our six-month program begins with cohorts of 15-18 participants attending a one-week, 35 hour job readiness (“mental toughness”) course. Our job readiness curriculum is based on a cognitive behavioral (CBT) approach that offers ex-offenders the insights and skills needed to "code-switch" from the world of crime to that of work, and helps them begin the process of self-exploration, goal-setting, and better decision-making. Participants are then placed in work crews operated by EMERGE, who is the employer of record, where they learn construction and property management skills over a 6 month period while renovating blighted properties into new affordable housing throughout the city. Other employment services include coaching for life skills and career planning, basic education classes, job readiness “soft skills” training, legal services related to child support and driver’s license recovery, job search and placement assistance, and post-placement retention services.
Through positive and supportive relationship building, our multi-phase, wrap-around service delivery approach breaks the cycle of destructive behavior by working with our program members to effectively deal with their trauma by starting a process of self-exploration intended to change their life trajectory. Our approach to personal wellness includes referrals to mental health services that help participants recognize the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledge the role trauma has played – and continues to play – in their lives. EMERGE emphasizes behavior change, and teaching the skills needed to self-manage that change, so the individual breaks the tendency to react without taking account of consequences of their actions.
EMERGE’s priorities are clear: to rebuild the capacity of the individual to earn a living wage, and for a parent to earn a family-supporting wage – or at a minimum contribute to family-supporting income – so they can begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. Our comprehensive approach has proven successful in keeping members employed beyond their participation in EMERGE, and produced a two year recidivism rate of 16%, which is 40 points lower than the State of Connecticut Department of Correction.
In the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year, EMERGE experienced the following program-level results:
- EMERGE had a 16% two-year recidivism rate (based on 2013 cohorts).
- EMERGE served 56 participants, enrolling 48 new crewmembers, meaning 48 transitional jobs created.
- Thanks to our volunteer tutors from First Presbyterian Church, 100% of EMERGE crewmembers engaged in traceable CASAS testing improved their math and reading scores by at least 1 grade level.
-60% of EMERGE alumni moved immediately to outside work or education upon exit.
- EMERGE generates 58% of its operating budget from commercial activity, which pays the wages of our work crew members, who worked 12,067 total hours.
Community-level impact: improved public safety, increasing affordable housing, and community service
- Improving Public Safety: EMERGE improves public safety in two ways: reduced crime, and a reduction in blighted properties, which are magnets for illicit activity such as drug dealing, squatting, and arson. It is significant to note that not one EMERGE participant has ever been arrested while participating in our program!
- Increasing the Stock of Affordable Housing: In 2014 and 2015, EMERGE has prepared 26 multi-family houses, which include 56 housing units that have been converted from blighted housing into newly occupied owner-occupied homes.
- Community Service: EMERGE work crews have contributed 1,334 hours of community service in Fiscal Year 2015-2016. Community service is a stepping stone towards atonement for the participant; giving back to a community where they caused harm, by visibly reshaping neighborhoods through projects such as community clean ups, tree planting, and moving furniture for the formerly homeless who are moving into permanent housing.
1. While EMERGE continues
to be successful in acquiring work that generates crew-related
revenues, our ongoing challenge is raising support dollars
for program-related services. We have an immediate need for a full
time "Life Coach", valued at $45,000 annually, to provide the
following services for crewmembers:
- Facilitating Parenting Groups - Individual career counseling - Family reunification - Assisting with personal development needs - Advocating on crewmembers' behalf for supportive services
Volunteers who are capable and willing to provide any of the above services would also be welcomed.
2. On the business, revenue-generating side, the EMERGE crewmembers would benefit from a utility pickup vehicle to transport crewmembers and tools to worksites.
3. There is an ongoing need for mental health professionals that would support our trauma-based approach to workforce development. Our experience has been that many crewmembers arrive with unresolved childhood traumas that continue to play a major role in their inability to find and keep a job.
4. EMERGE would also benefit from an individual with a background in construction to train and supervise a crew of 6 on job sites.
5. Another challenge that EMERGE routinely faces is instability in housing. Returning offenders often settle for unhealthy living situations upon release as they build back good will with family members and establish themselves financially. EMERGE crewmembers would benefit from housing opportunities that are beneficial to their personal development.
EMERGE Connecticut's strategic approach begins with its organizational structure as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that operates as a social enterprise. As a social enterprise, there are three characteristics that distinguish EMERGE from other types of businesses, nonprofits or government agencies:1. EMERGE operates with a "double bottom line" that places equal emphasis on services and revenue to sustain and expand services to clients.
2. EMERGE employs program participants on work crews where they earn an income and learn marketable skills.
3. EMERGE's commercial activity is both a distinctive feature and strong revenue driver that accounts for high levels of earned income in our operating budget (58%) that makes us unique among nonprofits.At the program level, EMERGE's strategic approach implements a research-driven model that uses the best evidence to design a workforce program that addresses the most prevalent employment barriers for hard-to-employ individuals -particularly the formerly incarcerated. The EMERGE model uses transitional (time limited) employment to engage participants in a structured model with wrap-around services that include:
- Extended transitional employment for up to 6 months of immediate paid work once they are home
- Mandatory literacy and numeracy classes to address very low basic educational skill levels
- Public benefits screening (food stamps, health insurance, etc.) to stabilize the individual with food and shelter when they are released
- Daily job readiness training in real workplace situations, with daily written evaluations to assess workplace skills like teamwork, punctuality, following direction, taking initiative.
- Weekly anger management sessions facilitated by two program participants to allow participants to discuss issues in an open and honest environment.
- A trauma-informed approach to personal wellness that includes referrals to mental health services.
- Weekly fatherhood and parenting classes that follow evidence-based curriculums and promote healthy relationships.
Community Offender Re-Entry Experience (C.O.R.E.) is our transitional
employment component and it is our flagship program that makes EMERGE unique
among Connecticut nonprofits. Upon
successful compliance with the employment intervention process, participants
are eligible to work up to six months, where they earn between $10 to $12 per
hour, based on experience and performance. As the “enhanced” model is designed, participants are eligible to work
up to 24 hours a week in a work crew environment and apply their existing and
newly acquired skill sets under the supervision of a crew chief. The remaining 16 hours are allotted for other
mandatory activities such as literacy classes, support and anger management
groups, job search, meeting with EMERGE staff, and complying with conditions of
state supervision such as court appearances and parole officer
EMERGE has found that the primary value added through literacy classroom training is the ability for crewmembers to access and receive content courses at community colleges rather than utilizing any grant supports to pay for remedial courses. A second benefit is the opportunity for crewmembers access "off-the-shelf" certification courses through the Department of Labor that previously had been unavailable to them.
A less measurable, but arguably more valuable benefit to meeting the Literacy and Numeracy goals is the sense of confidence and self-efficacy that is gained through completing a challenge. Crewmembers who improve their scores are able to use critical thinking and basic math skills on our constructions sites and at future jobs, confidently taking on more skilled work and adding value to the project. At home, something as simple as assisting their children with homework assignments becomes less of a challenge, and the prospect of returning to school becomes less intimidating.
In the short term, Real Talk has been a way of monitoring the changes in the overall outlook and progress in behavioral change for each individual client. Real Talk has also helped from a Case Management standpoint to identify what type of discussions, support, referrals and advocacy may be necessary on a case-by-case basis.
Real Talk is EMERGE’s weekly peer-to-peer group meeting. Real Talk provides a forum for work crew members to openly discuss issues or concerns they face day to day throughout their re-entry that require support and guidance. Each week a different crewmember selects a topic that is of particular importance to them, and they are asked to facilitate the discussion on that topic. Each individual crewmember is then given an opportunity to offer real-life examples of how they may or may not relate to the topic. A sample of recent Real Talk topics include: “Being a Better Father”; “Dealing with loss of a loved one”; “Better Decision Making”; and “Leading a 'Double Life'”. Group discussions help build a network of understanding and respect between each cohort of crewmembers and start a dialogue on personal issues that members can later address individually. Real Talk has been successful in fostering positive behavioral changes and reducing recidivism rates.
Through a partnership with the Fair Haven
Community Health Center, which is a member of the statewide Nurturing Families
Network, EMERGE supports parents and children in New Haven with the
goal of preventing child maltreatment by strengthening families through
reunification, fatherhood outreach and group support. The aim of the parenting classes is to prevent future unplanned pregnancies
and to get young dads involved in healthy relationships with their children,
even if relations with the mother have soured. Many young dads become estranged from their children because they are no
longer enamored of the mother. Many struggle with developing a connection with their children after returning
from years of incarceration and are separated from their children when they were
very young and find that they must re-introduce themselves into their
lives. Parenting groups help clients work their way through these and other parenting challenges through a variety of parenting curriculums.
Not unlike Real
Talk, Parenting serves as a gateway to outside mental health services
including family counseling, relationship counseling, and addiction services. Parenting, in collaboration with Real Talk and Literacy create a
well-rounded foundation to the personal development outcomes that have proven
to end the cycle of recidivism. Assisting
these parents who are over 90% male helps to make better fathers in our community,
fewer single-parent households, fewer at-risk children and safer households.
With the help of the Connecticut Women’s Consortium, EMERGE staff has been trained to facilitate a 6-week trauma-informed men’s group called "Exploring Trauma: A Brief Intervention for Men". The group focuses on exploring the unresolved childhood traumas that play into behavior and attitudes as adults. Traumatic stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are high among many who have been incarcerated, and this group raises awareness and offers strategies to navigate the feelings and behaviors associated with many of these issues.
Throughout my high school and
college years I traveled on my own to five foreign countries on three separate
trips volunteering and taking college courses. I have also done volunteer work in the state of Connecticut with
political campaigns and elections, as well as programs affiliated with my
church in Willimantic, CT. In my travels
I’ve worked largely in the Hospitality and Food Service Industries, as well as
in audio/video technology at my University.
I started at EMERGE CT, Inc. in
January of 2013 as the Case Manager/Life Coach for this incredible organization. Through my time here I have taken on several
aspects of the program operations, including Literacy and Numeracy classroom
facilitator and CASAS testing proctor, COS-Parenting instructor, and
Employability Workshop facilitator. I was
promoted to Director of Program Services as in June 2014.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by The Community Foundation. Financial information is input by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation requires three years of financial information from the nonprofit organization; however, this requirement may not be available for some organizations due to their more recent incorporation or formation. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
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