The program places our women in careers to help them build a successful future.

Hand Up for Women is here to help women escape painful pasts to achieve abundant living. One way we do this, is through community partnerships. One such partnership is with the City of Knoxville’s Second Chance Program that helps our women get placed in careers that can set them up for success.

One in three US adults has a criminal record, according to the FBI. This makes it hard to get a job, as surveys find that more than 60% of employers would “probably not” or “definitely not” hire someone with a criminal record, despite research confirming once an individual with a prior conviction remains crime-free for four to seven years, their risk of recidivism is no greater than the risk of arrest among the general population.

Research published by University of Michigan shows minor felony records have large negative impacts on employer callbacks in response to job applications. Justice-involved people experienced a 27% unemployment rate in 2018, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, that’s the highest rate in our nation’s history.

These grim statistics heavily impact women. The number of incarcerated women increased by more than 475% from 1980 to 2020 to 152,854 women. This limits their access to education, jobs, housing and other necessities. This is where government organizations and nonprofit partners like Hand Up for Women step in.

The Second Chance Act was signed into law in 2008. Designed to improve outcomes for people returning to communities from prisons and jails, the legislation supports programs to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support and other services that can help reduce recidivism.

The legislation acknowledges the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction and aims to provide second-chance opportunities for the 95% of justice-involved individuals who will return to their communities. The program has partnerships with employers offering careers in fields including manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, CDL operators, distribution, service industries, parks & recreation departments, iron work, plumbing, food services and more.

Hand Up for Women has been partnering with the City of Knoxville’s Second Chance Program for six years and has placed several women in careers through the partnership. Hand Up identifies women who have gone through our career-readiness program who may be a good candidate in the public works department and connects them with the opportunities.

Marilyn Anderson was one of our women who joined this program and holds the honor of being the only person in the city of Knoxville who got her CDL certification on the first try. She’s worked in public service for several years and joined the Knoxville Police Department last year in the licensing department.

Two other women have also worked their way through the program earning certifications and promotions and have built successful careers after being given this second chance.

Hand Up for Women Executive Director, Eva Pierce said, “This partnership has been a wonderful thing. I want more relationships like that with potential employers because our goal at Hand Up for Women is not just job readiness, it’s career readiness. We want the ladies to be able to have stability, promotional potential, make a wage that gives them a future, have retirement for their future and insurance that a lot of us take for granted and make a huge difference in life.”

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 82% of managers say the value second chance employees bring to their organization is as high as, or higher than, that of workers without records. Research shows that second chance hires have lower turnover rates and are more engaged. Hiring second chance employees can improve diversity and inclusivity which can greatly improve company culture.

If you are an employer who would like to give some of our women a chance to prove to you that what they learn at Hand Up for Women translates into a quality employee, please reach out:

865-525-9696 or email [email protected]