Brooklyn Communities Collaborative launches second workforce development training program for previously incarcerated individuals

The nonprofit already has graduated one class with 70% of participants landing full-time employment.

Participants at a session of BCC’s Environmental Services workforce training program

Participants at a session of BCC’s Environmental Services workforce training program Image courtesy of Brooklyn Communities Collaborative

Brooklyn Communities Collaborative is starting the second class of a pilot program that trains previously incarcerated individuals for full-time employment in healthcare. 

The next class, offered through the nonprofit’s Advancing Healthcare Workforce Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals program, focuses on environmental service technician opportunities, a job typically held in hospitals to ensure cleanliness and high hygiene standards. The same workforce development umbrella program had its first class in environmental services workforce training graduate in January with over 70% of the class securing a full-time job. 

“We know that people who are formerly incarcerated individuals really struggle with access to employment after falling into incarceration and that's one of the main drivers of high re-incarceration rates,”  said Shari Suchoff, executive director of Brooklyn Communities Collaborative, which is dedicated to creating housing and health equity. “We felt that this was a good way to still meet both of those needs, getting unionized jobs for these individuals, while at the same time filling urgent health care workforce needs.” 

Those with a history of incarceration have a 27% unemployment rate and are ten times more likely to experience homelessness compared to the general population. At the same time, the need for more environmental service technicians has been expressed by hospitals and healthcare partners, according to Suchoff. Brooklyn Communities Collaborate hopes to marry the needs of previously incarcerated individuals and the needs of the hospital system with this program. 

The program will include career readiness training, occupational skills development, resume writing, mock interviews, and job placement assistance. 

The pilot is being funded by Affinity Legacy, Inc. and partners with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and STRIVE. Job placement sites include Maimonides Health and Downstate Health Sciences University. 

“What success looks like is that when big places like hospitals have openings, the first place they think to look is within their own communities and within their community-based organizations to make those opportunities available to people that are right here in their backyard,” said Suchoff.

“We know that when the healthcare workforce is reflective of the communities they serve, that leads to better patient experience and better patient outcomes overall”