Business Viewpoint: Seeking assistance for a new kind of CEO
BY KAREN KEITH Business Viewspoint
Thursday, May 03, 2012
5/03/12 at 4:36 AM
For those recently put on parole or probation, the path to a better life is not always an easy one to follow. It's a path, poorly lit and littered with twists and turns, that too often leads back to prison.
The recently opened Center for Employment Opportunities in Tulsa is working to illuminate that path and help keep formerly incarcerated people from returning to prison by providing basic work skills to obtain full-time jobs.
As a Social Innovation Fund sub-grantee, CEO is funded by the federal government, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and George Kaiser Family Foundation.
CEO educates its participants, teaching them resume-building and interview skills, and coaches them on employer expectations in today's labor market.
But what makes CEO unique is the transitional job component. Within one week of enrolling in CEO, participants are working on a transitional job work crew and providing much-needed services for various public partners, including Tulsa County. Participants earn a daily paycheck and tangible work experience that CEO staff uses to leverage into permanent jobs in the community.
The numbers support the narrative. More than 118 individuals have graduated from the Life Skills Education class. CEO reports that 111 have participated in transitional work crews, and 52 placements have led to permanent, unsubsidized work.
The numbers are truly remarkable when you remember that the CEO Tulsa office has not even celebrated its one-year anniversary.
CEO targets those who are most likely to return to prison at the most critical time - immediately upon release. Nearly half of the enrolled participants are young adults, age 18-25.
The individuals in the program aren't the only ones who benefit from CEO. In addition to Tulsa County, the cities of Jenks and Sand Springs and the Metropolitan Environmental Trust have all benefited from the services performed by the participants. Companies that hire CEO graduates receive an individual who is trained to succeed as an employee and as a person.
Since last July, Tulsa County has benefitted from a CEO work crew of approximately six individuals for 6.5 hours per day, 5 days a week. Countless bridges across the county have been cleared of damaging sand and debris, and dozens of creek beds have been cleared to improve drainage and prevent flooding.
You may have read recent stories about the efforts to clean up the Bruner Hill area in west Tulsa County. I'm proud to say our CEO crew played a big role in that effort.
As CEO's impact continues to grow, it is my sincere wish that community participation grows with it. Now is the perfect time to form a partnership with CEO. I urge cities and counties around Tulsa to open their doors to this program, to help those who not only deserve a second chance but also truly strive to be better. In turn, they will see an improvement in the effort to beautify their communities.
Our country is known as a land of opportunity. We must remember that opportunity is for everyone, including for those who have made mistakes. The Center for Employment Opportunities in Tulsa works to ensure that those given a second chance are able to succeed.
Karen Keith is Tulsa County Commissioner for District 2.
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily the Tulsa World. To inquire about writing a Business Viewpoint column, email a short outline of the article to Business Editor John Stancavage at email@example.com. The column should focus on a business trend; the outlook for the city, state or an industry; or a topic of interest in an area of the writer's expertise. Articles should not promote a business or be overly political in nature.