MICHIGAN CITY — Goodwill, which has locations in Michigan City and La Porte, was just awarded hundreds of thousands in federal funding to help hundreds of former inmates reenter the workforce.

The Northwest Indiana Workforce Board (NWIWB) and the Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI), awarded $600,000 in federal funds from the Workforce Investment & Opportunity Act (WIOA) to Goodwill Industries of Michiana, with the goal of serving up to 200 individuals who have been released from the judicial system and are unemployed in Northwest Indiana, according to a press release from Goodwill.

Goodwill will design, administer and deliver the re-entry services through June 2020 in Lake, Porter, La Porte, Newton, Jasper and Starke counties. According to Goodwill, targeted services and activities will be implemented through the WorkOne offices and include workshops, job search assistance, career counseling, workforce experience opportunities, access to occupational skills training, supportive services, case management, placement and follow-up for participants.

Debra Baughman, vice president of Branch Training for Horizon Bank and chair of the NWIWB, said she sees this program as another way to expand the region’s talent pool.

“Employers may find a solid base of workers in this population and need to consider the tax incentives and training resources available to them, depending on the job and the industry,” she said.

“People with blemished backgrounds have the challenge of finding resources to help them integrate back into society,” said Linda Woloshansky, CWI president and CEO, and executive staff to the NWIWB. “This program will help to mitigate the challenges, allowing these folks to concentrate on adjusting to life and providing them assistance and resources to get back to work.”

Woloshansky said they selected Goodwill for the award because of their solid experience in providing re-entry services in several Michiana communities, and they have been a leading provider of workforce developments services, which enable and empower individuals with disadvantages.  

Although many of these hard-to-place individuals are selecting to work hard and make positive changes to their life, they may need to retool themselves for those career choices that accept ex-offenders, Goodwill said. According to the organization, the WorkOne Business Services team will be instrumental in employer outreach to educate them on the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and other incentives available to them should they hire an ex-offender and provide them a fair opportunity. 

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