Barrier Removal : The New Hope Project

Program/Practice Name:The New Hope Project

Agency Name: YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin

Contact Information:
1915 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive 
Milwaukee, WI 53212 
Phone: (414) 374-1800
communication@ywcasew.org
http://www.ywcasew.org/site/c.7oJELQPwFhJWG/b.8083533/k.BDB7/Home.htm

Type of Program/Practice: The New Hope Project provides transitional jobs and support to non–custodial parents.

Program/Practice Description: The New Hope Project began as a demonstration grant in 1994, testing whether a program offering assistance in finding a job, subsidized health and child care, community service jobs when needed, and an earnings supplement could help low–income families enter the workforce and leave poverty. The project showed promising results and in 2003, New Hope began the Supporting Families program, a modification of the original demonstration. Since 2005, New Hope's Supporting Families program has enrolled 300 participants, with 161 obtaining unsubsidized employment. In 2006, New Hope joined a new grant–funded demonstration project focused on easing the transition from prison to work.

In November of 2009, the New Hope Project was acquired by the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee, bringing New Hope Project's staff expertise in subsidized employment and working with re–entry populations to the YWCA's workforce offerings in TANF, Workforce Investment Act and FoodShare Employment and Training programs.

Most recently, the YWCA's New Hope Project was awarded a Department of Labor Enhanced Transitional Jobs Program in the amount of $5.7M. This four year grant opportunity will require the YWCA/NHP to recruit 1,000 non–custodial parents for a random assignment evaluation of transitional employment. 500 participants will be enrolled in the Supporting Families Through Work program to receive subsidized employment, child support remediation assistance, access to training and an earnings supplement once unsubsidized employment has been obtained.

Innovations and Results: Since January 2007, New Hope has provided participants with guaranteed access to employment through time–limited subsidized jobs. Clients are immediately matched to a transitional job based upon their skills, interests, and job availability. The transitional jobs are in local businesses, including construction, manufacturing, auto repair, and baking. The project covers the employee's wages for up to 4 months. In return, employers are required to provide real work and supervision for participants to build their work history and experience. Clients are required to complete weekly timesheets that are signed by their supervisors and forwarded to New Hope for payment.

Participants also receive financial incentives. They are paid a minimum wage for up to 30 hours of work, with no benefits. Additionally, they may receive assistance with transportation costs and purchasing work clothes or equipment. New Hope understands that work is necessary, but not always sufficient, to help individuals get out of poverty, and therefore tries to structure financial and non–financial supports to improve retention and help with advancement. Case managers help clients find employment following the transitional job, including delivering job search assistance and practice interviews. A job developer works with area employers to locate potential opportunities.

Keys to Success:

  • Developing relationships with area businesses is vital. By highlighting the "free labor" aspect, using letters of support from other employers, and working through community networks, New Hope has a substantial list of potential transitional employers.
  • Individual attention is key to New Hope's model. While New Hope offers workshops on job search and advancement, much of the coaching is done one on one, allowing staff members to get to know individuals better, understand their willingness and availability to follow through, and help identify which kinds of help or resources will be most useful.
  • Most participants need to improve both their "hard" and "soft" skills. It is not uncommon for participants to lose jobs, so staff must be prepared for that. Helping individuals recognize what is in their control, and what they could do differently, is part of the work and takes a long time. Most participants need to upgrade skills through school or training, but many times they do not have sufficient basic skills in math or reading to qualify to enter training. Finding ways to keep in touch over time is key to helping individuals connect with training when they are motivated to make that move.

“There are no tools associated with this program.”