Program Helps Returning Citizens Land on Their Feet After Release

DURHAM, NC – Every year more than 22,000 people are released from the state prison system in North Carolina. One local re-entry program, Training 2 Work administered by Eckerd Connects, has helped more than 175 of those released since 2016 in Durham & Wake Counties successfully re-enter the community as productive members of society by providing intensive case management, occupational skills training, supportive services (including legal assistance), mentorship, job placement and follow-up services.

 “We’re here to change lives and build communities one person at a time with re-entry support efforts” said Tieshia Young, Eckerd Connects Program Manager. “It’s almost overwhelming to see someone come out of prison, go through training, get certified in a particular industry, and then start a career that sets their life on an entirely new path. This is why we do the work we do.”

The program is honoring its graduates with a ceremony on June 1stfrom 11am-2pm. The event will celebrate the program’s success and will include testimonials from participants who will share how the skills they learned have changed their lives.The program, including both Durham & Wake counties, has serviced more than 175 participants released from prison. 109 participants are currently employed and 117 have completed a vocational skills training and received an industry recognized credential. To date they are earning an average of $13 per hour, higher than the state’s minimum wage.

Isaac Blount began participating in the program in November 2018. He’s currently working with a nonprofit organization called Redirection CDC where he trains others, including those who have been incarcerated, about the mindset it takes to be successful.

“The program helped me by providing real world training,” said Blount. “Even though I am working and moving forward with my career, the Eckerd Connects program and team will always be a part of me. They believed in me not just with encouraging words, but with actions to help me reenter the workforce and provide from my family.”

The Training 2 Work Program administered by Eckerd Connects is a U.S. Department of Labor reentry grant awarded to the Greater Durham Workforce Development Board in collaboration with the Capital Area Workforce Development Board.