Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Expands Reentry Pathways for Newly-Released People Looking for Quality Careers

By Kaylynn Chang

NEW YORK, NY — The Center of Employment Opportunities revealed this week it is expanding its Advanced Training Pathways program to provide individuals with criminal records access to high-quality and well-paying careers in fields with fewer barriers to entry.

Announcing this plan during Second Chance Month, CEO stated it will provide participants with “a broader range of options to help people find the career that is right for them.”

Allowing people to build the skills necessary to secure employment and seek out sustainable futures for themselves and their families, CEO said it offers pathways that provide immediate employment opportunities by supplying jobs that have been affected by labor shortages.

CEO provided a list of roles and pathways crafted toward both job-seeker and employer interests in its announcement, including pathways into areas such as commercial driving, heavy equipment operation, fiber optic technology, solar installation, skilled construction trades and information technology.

CEO stated expanding these pathways was promulgated from past successes in commercial driving (Commercial Driver’s License) careers. According to the given statistics, in Oakland, drivers had an “average starting rate of $28.20/hr., New York City $26.95, Los Angeles $25.25, and Denver $23.75.

With an average starting salary of $50-70k/yr, more than 300 workers have enrolled through CEO, which noted a “75 percent completion rate,” placing “70 percent of CDL license holders into a commercial driving job.” Facing promising beginnings, participants are also “three times more likely to be placed in permanent employment,” according to CEO.

CEO claims new pathways will expand on preceding ones by using models of projected growth, paying above-average wages, focusing on roles with minimal prior conviction restrictions, and developing defined training that will lead to employment.

Dane Worthington, director of Mobility Foundations at the Center for Employment Opportunities, said the CDL pathway “has given our participants the ability to dream bigger, pursue opportunities that were previously beyond their imagination, and build a sustainable future for themselves and their families.”

Additionally, he remarked CEO’s expanded range of options will “provide high wages with low barriers to entry” and create careers that workers will find fulfilling.

Worthington believes these pathways will help participants see it through to the end, because these roles become what workers “are passionate about, we [CEO] are confident it will further reduce recidivism and increase their success in the long run.”

The CEO also shared stories of those who have found success through their pathways, such as those of Terence and Chris—two participants in the Commercial Driver License program.

For Terence, despite facing numerous obstacles due to his criminal record, his determination and CEO’s support in job interviews, career support, and training opportunities allowed for him to enroll in a CDL course, paving the way for long-term stability.

However, Terence encountered initial setbacks such as outstanding fines, but he received additional help from CEO who paid off his fines, allowing him to complete the CDL program. Now, Terence has transitioned from unemployment to being in demand by numerous companies, looking to “secure a job with a salary of over $90,000” according to CEO.

Chris, another former participant at the San Jose office of the Center for Employment Opportunity, shared his story. Not only was Chris the “first graduate of the CDL program at CEO’s San Jose office,” but the article also reveals that he completed a “year of employment post-incarceration” and “earned his Commercial Drivers License (CDL) this spring” with Tanker Endorsement.

“All of the staff members were super supportive,” Chris said. “Everybody was there to change their lives. I felt like I was one of them right away.”

CEO’s support included covering tuition costs, providing weekly stipends, and offering case management. Chris’ dedication and full use of help led him to ace the test, granting him security and job stability as he is currently employed as a traffic flagger.

Chris revealed in the article “it feels good to be responsible—I’m always on time. I always want to learn. I’ve got a good attitude, and I work hard.”

Expressing gratitude for the invaluable assistance and opportunities provided for them, Chris and Terence both acknowledge CEO’s support in building post-incarceration pathways and plans that allow them job security and a brighter future through their work.

Showing the past successes of the CDL program, CEO claims to continue providing services to help newly-released people find high-paying jobs with low barriers to entry, aiming to further reduce recidivism and increase long-term success.

In addition, CEO has also strengthened its partnership with Freeworld and unions which have enhanced accessibility for participants.

About The Author

Kaylynn Chang is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley looking to major in Legal Studies with a strong interest in criminal justice and judicial law. Having years of experence with journalism and leading a publication, she loves to look for the stories of her community, focusing on the hidden voices and intriguing tales of people. She hopes to attend law school in the future, but for now she is looking to gain experience and experiment with her path. A passionate creator, a cafe connoisseur, and a library enthusiast, Kaylynn is always looking for small adventures along with accomplishing big goals.

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