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Goodwill Launches Program to Help Justice-Involved Youth

Goodwill’s newest workforce development program is aimed at reducing recidivism in youth involved in the justice system across Central and Coastal Virginia.

GoodPath is a career pathway for offenders between ages 16 and 20 who are recently released from a juvenile corrections facility and on parole or probation. Its goal is to equip them with job readiness skills and employment opportunities so they can enter, stay and progress in the workforce.

“This is an intensive program, and we believe GoodPath will have a positive impact on many of these individuals’ lives,” said Natasha Winfree, Goodwill’s program manager for re-entry services.

GoodPath launched in November in collaboration with AMIkids, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping troubled youth develop into productive citizens. AMIkids received funding from Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and subcontracted Goodwill to provide workforce development and wrap-around support services for justice-involved youth.

“If we do not create a pathway to success for these young people, they could either return to incarceration or become dependent on public assistance, which is something the next generation cannot afford financially or socially,” said Winfree. Data from DJJ’s 2016 resource guide shows the average age of a juvenile detainee in 2016 is 16 years old, and 51.5 percent of juvenile offenders are re-arrested within 12 months.

“GoodPath truly aligns with our mission of helping individuals with challenges to employment become successful,” said John Dougherty, Goodwill’s vice president of community workforce. “Goodwill is uniquely qualified to help provide new solutions for the juvenile justice population,” he said.

Goodwill provides program participants with 12 weeks of workforce education and job-readiness training through classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training. Components include soft skills training, financial literacy, interviewing/resume writing/job searching, digital literacy and basic computer skills. Goodwill also assigns an employment specialist to each participant and provides six months of post-program job development support. The program will also offer monthly alumni group meetings.

“GoodPath is an opportunity to catch these kids before they fall through the cracks of a broken justice system,” said Dougherty, who has more than 15 years of experience concentrating on child and family services and social justice. “GoodPath is our effort to create a source of support and guidance for youth who are largely coming back to society without a sense of hope. By empowering them to enter the workforce, they may realize they can be successful outside of a life of crime,” he said.

For more information on GoodPath and other employment resources at Goodwill, click here.