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May 11, 2022 (Fox 43)

Local nonprofit offers resources to help people with criminal records get jobs

“The Program: It’s About Change” offers mentoring and workplace training to ex-offenders reentering society.

YORK, Pa. — Amid the labor crunch in the economy, some employers are opening up job positions to people with prior criminal convictions.

According to Indeed, “fair-chance” job postings, meaning initial criminal background screenings are not required, have gone up by one-third since 2019.

“The pandemic has definitely opened up the labor market to help people have access to employment that they might not have had access to before,” said Alice Anne Frost.

Frost is part of “The Program: It’s About Change,” a local nonprofit that provides resources to ex-offenders reentering society. The Program offers workforce development, transportation, and childcare resources so that ex-offenders can find and maintain employment.

“That’s the key, it’s helping folks maintain their employment, not just get the job,” explained Frost. “Then (we) make sure we’re providing those resources, so that they can maintain their employment.”

Dashawn Harrison is one of the mentors in The Program’s new youth reentry initiative, “Project Future Focus.” The program provides mentoring and support services to teens and young adults who have been through the criminal justice system.

Harrison uses his experience as an ex-offender to offer hope to people who are returning home.

“You can be better, you can overcome your circumstances, you can go get that job. That one may not be for you, but the next one is,” said Harrison.

He says the challenge is to convince young people to have the will to overcome the adversity and stigma of being an ex-offender in order to find a job.

“You might get 50 no’s before you get that job that allows you to provide for your family, have stability in your life, and have a decent income,” said Harrison.

The Program currently assists more than 100 clients in Harrisburg and York.

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