By Paul Cooper, Parole Agent III
On June 14, the Los Angeles Central Parole District in collaboration with the City of Inglewood Mayor’s Office and South Bay Workforce Investment Board One Stop Center hosted the Career Pathways 180 Job Preparation and Workshop Academy. This event was the fourth iteration since its inception in April 2017. The Career Pathways 180 comprises four days of academia that focuses on job preparedness, readiness and soft skills with a graduation ceremony and job fair on the fifth day.
The academy consisted of 37 formerly incarcerated men and women. Throughout the week, the 37 graduates received the support and encouragement from their agents, DAPO Supervisors and Managers, and the investment board’s staff to participate and complete this life-changing workshop. Each day began with a different motivational speaker that inspired the class to take full advantage of the program so that they may create better future opportunities.
The Career Pathways 180 committee developed a thorough and expansive curriculum that assist the formerly incarcerated with navigating, overcoming the hurdles, challenges of re-entry and with obtaining/maintaining employment.
The graduation ceremony had several guest speakers whose messages were poignant and functioned to motivate all in attendance. Those who offered remarks included Karen Thacker, Southern Regional Parole Administrator, Jon Stern, Chief Deputy Regional Administrator, Vincent Thompson, District Administrator, James T. Butts Jr., Inglewood City Mayor, Jan Vogel, the Investment Board’s Executive Director and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, California’s 43rd District.
Congresswoman Waters, a powerful legislator in Washington, spoke passionately to the graduates about making positive changes. She congratulated all the graduates and applauded them for taking actions to elevate their job development readiness.
She expressed how pleased she was that each graduate chose to take the steps to complete the Career Pathways 180 Job Preparation and Workshop Academy and how this step would not only bolster their opportunities in life but would serve as an example that could inspire others to follow their lead. She encouraged each of them to continue to learn skills to put them on a path of financial independence.
She told them to not see themselves as victims but to look in the mirror and tell yourself you can do this.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. shared with the graduates his commitment and efforts to create employment opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. A longtime believer in second-chance opportunities, the mayor discussed how the City Of Inglewood, through its numerous projects that include hosting the 2021 Super Bowl, the Olympics, the World Cup, Philharmonic and becoming the new home of the Los Angeles Clippers, has created an ideal climate that will foster sustainable employment, now and beyond.
Regional Administrator Karen Thacker congratulated the graduates on a job well done. She praised them for making the decision to participate in the academy and commended them for overcoming the obstacles that could have prevented them from successfully reaching this point. She understands that they have sustained setbacks in life but they shouldn’t allow themselves to be defined by those setbacks. She encouraged the graduates to find their calling and expressed how this academy was the first step. She further explained that their accomplishment today should show them that they are capable of overcoming any adversity.
Chief Deputy Regional Administrator Jon Stern was excited to be there to witness the accomplishments of the graduates. He specifically acknowledged graduate Trevon Brown for being named the Valedictorian of his class and praised him for having the courage to speak publicly to a room full of his peers.
He thanked District Administrator, Vincent Thompson and all involved for making the event possible. He further stated the profound benefits such a program has on the parolee population. He shared how he had seen the effectiveness of the academy in the past and was encouraged by the partnership between DAPO and the investment board. He too congratulated all the graduates and implored them to speak to each of the employers that were present.
Parole Administrator Vincent Thompson discussed the importance of the graduates’ commitment to change. He acknowledged that everyone can aspire to bring about positive change in their lives if they chose to. He thanked his team for their efforts to make the Los Angeles Central’s Career Pathways 180 Job Preparation and Workshop Academy a success.
He voiced his confidence in the collaborative efforts between the Division of Adult Parole Operations and community-based providers such as the South Bay Workforce Investment Board One Stop Center and how our shared interest in the successful reintegration of the reentry population is facilitated by endeavors like the academy.
He encouraged the graduates to take full advantage of the employment opportunities provided by the employers present for the Job Fair component of the academy and wished each of them continued success.
Trevon Brown graduated with honors and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the academy. As he spoke, his feelings of accomplishment could be sensed.
As with the previous iterations of the academy, in preparation for their interviews, each graduate was given business attire which included suits/dresses, shirts and shoes.
The job fair hosted 22 employers in various fields. On that day, many of the graduates were able to apply for various positions and some have already received employment.
The Career Pathway 180 Job Preparation and Workshop Academy has been and continues to be one of the Los Angeles Central Parole District’s transformational opportunities that has led to transitional growth and development for life beyond parole.
On this day, the impact and effectiveness of the academy was evident by the optimism and exuberance that could be seen on the faces of its graduates.