Friday, January 22, 2010

Reentry, Jobs

This is an excellent program, as reported by the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, based on social enterprise principles, and though it doesn’t focus on professional criminals—those hardest to rehabilitate—it is providing a valuable service for those it does help, mostly drug offenders.

An excerpt.

“Kevin Lynch appears to be one lousy company president at first glance.

“Lynch runs a 25-year-old St. Paul-based business that makes no profit and has an annual worker turnover rate of about 400 percent. Lynch, who grew up in Edina, doesn't just celebrate this: I actually caught him last week congratulating an employee who is leaving to go work for — get this — a major competitor.

"You developed skills here, and now the world is going to benefit from them," Lynch tells a woman named Veronica during a small gathering at Rebuild Resources Inc.'s lunchroom last week. "This is exactly what's supposed to happen, and if that happened to everyone here, it would put us out of business, but it would also be the ultimate outcome."

“Say what? This guy should not be allowed to run a shower, let alone a business. It all becomes clear after you understand what Rebuild Resources is all about. It's a nonprofit social enterprise business that provides services and jobs for people in recovery, particularly ex-offenders returning to the community.

“Judging from the hundreds of graduates — nearly 1,000 since 1984 — whose photos line the walls of the main office, the firm may be one of the city's little-known success stories.

“About 68 percent of those graduates landed permanent jobs over the years. The firm helped place 28 people, 56 percent of 2008's program graduates, in permanent jobs in the midst of the nation's deepest recession since the Great Depression. Only two graduates, 3.5 percent of the total, went back to jail. Meanwhile, the nonprofit's revenue grew from $747,260 in 2006 to $1.4 million in 2008 on the business side, along with $600,000 in philanthropic funds raised that year to help finance programs.”