Engaging Minnesota’s Second Chance Workforce – and Welcoming Formerly Incarcerated People Back to Our Communities

people in a parking lot with exhibitor tables in St. Paul

Each year thousands of Minnesotans exit incarceration and come back into our communities. Too often it seems that even though they have served their sentence, they are continually defined by the worst decisions they made. In fact, some formerly incarcerated people say they feel they have a life sentence, even when living outside the prison walls. These types of barriers can cause the inability to find living-wage employment – and can lead to recidivism. It is important to reach out to people facing such barriers and offer them a second chance.

Earlier this month, Leading CareerForce partner Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, in partnership with Repowered, Art from the Inside, Ujamaa Place, led an effort to welcome formerly incarcerated people back to their communities and help them connect with employment. About 200 people came together on Saturday, September 10 for an outdoor welcome home celebration and job fair in the parking lot at Ujamaa Place in Saint Paul’s Midway Area, near the CareerForce location. About 90 of those in attendance were job seekers looking to connect with the seven employers who were represented at the job fair, which was sponsored by the Workforce Innovation Board of Ramsey County. Event participants also had an opportunity to find out about community resources. Some family members of people who are scheduled to be released from prison soon were also there to access resources. Families enjoyed free food, music and children’s entertainment.