Aligning local, state and federal priorities to help targeted populations re-enter the workforce

One of the Alliance’s top workforce development policy priorities in 2020 is supporting programs that assist targeted populations to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Earlier this week, the Alliance was proud to attend a special program of the Joseph Project, which included a roundtable discussion led by Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Trump, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Pastor Jerome Smith of the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ and Ja’Ron Smith, deputy assistant to President Trump .

The discussion focused on criminal justice reforms that have helped those coming out of the criminal justice system to receive training and successfully transition back into society, including employment.

First Step Act
Kushner spoke about the First Step Act, a major set of federal criminal justice reforms passed in December 2018, and had the opportunity to meet four individuals in attendance who have directly benefited from the First Step Act.

The Joseph Project
The roundtable discussion included Waukesha County employer Neal Glaeser, president of Denali Ingredients, which has hired more than 50 individuals through the Joseph Project, as well as past Joseph Project participants who are now employed at Denali Ingredients and Wenthe-Davidson Engineering Co., in New Berlin. For several years, Alliance manufacturing companies have partnered with the Joseph Project, a career placement program endorsed by Sen. Johnson, in partnership with a team of local advocates dedicated to promoting empowerment in the City of Milwaukee. The program, run through Greater Praise Church on Milwaukee’s north side, provides job training and transportation to work for low-income Milwaukee residents. The Joseph Project expanded to Waukesha County in 2017, and several Waukesha County manufacturing companies in New Berlin and the City of Waukesha are involved.

Expungement Reform in Wisconsin

In recent months, the Alliance has supported legislation (Senate Bill 39) focused on expungement reform in Wisconsin. The bipartisan effort is aimed at bringing Wisconsin’s expungement process in-line with much of the rest of the country. Expungement provides non-violent offenders with a fresh start. Wisconsin already has expungement, but we believe the existing law needs to be reformed, and as such, have supported Senate Bill 39.

With record-low levels of unemployment in Wisconsin and an aging workforce, employers recognize that criminal justice reform can improve both the labor market and life outcomes for people with criminal records. Supporting programs that assist targeted populations, such as those with a criminal background, to enter or re-enter the workforce can widen the pool of available candidates.

Click here to view a live stream of the Joseph Project roundtable with Jared Kushner.