Young people who have past involvement with the justice system face enormous barriers when it comes to completing an education, finding a career, and becoming economically self-sufficient. IEL designed the Right Turn Career-Focused Transition Initiative to combat the systemic inequities that prevent these young adults from contributing to their communities.
Originally funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Education and Training Administration in 2013, and then again in 2015, Right Turn has been implemented in eight communities around the country. The program is highly individualized—adapted to each community and every young person. Case managers guide and support participants as they develop an individualized career development plan, taking them through IEL’s three-phase career development process: self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management.
All Right Turn participants exit the program with a personalized transition plan to connect them to ongoing resources to support their continued personal development. IEL’s staff supports on-the-ground partners with technical assistance, planning, tools, and trainings throughout the active program period. This includes helping to establish enduring partnerships to create a sustainable impact in the communities. Past sites have even been able to continue the program services in their communities through local funding sources. In the past five years, the program has served more than 1800 young people and seen an array of successful outcomes, including lower recidivism rates, increased school retention, high school diploma and GED attainment, and higher placement rates in jobs, credential-based training, and postsecondary education.
This year the Department awarded IEL another intermediary grant to implement the Right Turn model with five community-based organizations: Arizona Center for Youth Resources in Phoenix, Ariz.; Goodwill Industries of Houston, Tex.; Oasis Center in Nashville, Tenn; Peckham, Inc. in Lansing, Mich.; and PVJOBs in Los Angeles, Calif.
With this grant, organizations will focus on connection to apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships. Apprenticeships allow participants to earn and learn and eventually receive an industry-recognized credential. These Right Turn sites will expose at least 90% of participants to apprenticeship connections. Sites are currently building relationships in key industries, including manufacturing, mechanical and electrical engineering, plumbing, construction, hospitality, and information technology.
Sites select the apprenticeships based on high-demand industries in their area. For example, ACYR in Phoenix, is working with a local sustainable energy organization to have an apprenticeship related to harnessing solar energy in the Arizona Sun Corridor.
Last week, IEL brought staff from these five organizations to Washington, D.C. for the official Right Turn kick off orientation. Case managers, site coordinators, and other key staff worked together to discuss lessons learned from previous experience, learn about the new program, and develop strategies to best serve the 600 young adults that will enroll over the next two years.
One staff member described the meeting as “a powerful brainstorming session with people who are all passionate about working with young people.”
Networking is another important part of the meeting, and sites were excited to exchange ideas for innovative practices or possible collaborations.
Many commented on the remarkable experiences they’ve had working with bright young people and the need for equity of access to opportunity.
One staff member from Los Angeles commented, “Everyone needs someone on their team to help them reach their goals and potential. I’m a part of this program because I want to be that someone for the young people in our community.”