Today, more than 65 homeless men and women in three different locations are finding out how to break the cycle of homelessness. For the past 4 years, ACSS has worked diligently to serve homeless individuals with job readiness skills through our CareerWorks program. With a capacity to serve about 450 people each year, CareerWorks has helped more than 1,000 participants secure full-time employment since its inception, but the need is greater than what we can meet within the four walls of our classroom. This fall we are excited to take our CareerWorks program to partner facilities with CareerWorks Access, a satellite learning initiative that will allow us to help more people in need.
CareerWorks: Access is the result of almost two years of research, planning and testing by the ACSS Board of Directors and staff. The project was born from a plan developed by Leadership Atlanta to help ACSS increase program capacity without greatly increasing costs.
“E-Learning has been used to expand educational capacity for years in education and business, but we are the first in Atlanta to use e-learning in serving the homeless” says ACSS President and CEO Dana Johnson. The adoption of distance learning technology, evident in schools and corporations across the nation, allows information to be shared far past the walls of any one organization. Currently ACSS can serve approximately 450 individuals per year in its classrooms at 100 Edgewood Avenue. With an estimated 7,000 people currently homeless in metro Atlanta, and 58% citing job loss and extended unemployment as the primary obstacle to housing, the need is great.
Currently ACSS participants come to the program through referrals from strategic partners such as Atlanta Mission, Salvation Army, City of Refuge and other shelters and programs in the city. CareerWorks: Access allows these partner agencies to offer program curriculum at their respective locations. Innovative two-way video technology allows facilitators to communicate with satellite participants through responsive audio, video, and chat functions.
In addition to the logistical and capacity needs met by this program, the on-site curriculum will allow caseworkers and instructors at partner locations to engage in the employment process, creating a more cohesive continuum of care for the participants served. Multi-site employment specialists from ACSS will assist in the job search process by guiding clients through the process and connecting them to potential employment opportunities.
In August, City of Refuge’s Eden Village and Trinity Community Ministries, began streaming one week of CareerWorks curriculum at their respective facilities. Each month additional agencies (including Atlanta Mission, Salvation Army, Covenant House and more) are being added, with 4 agencies beginning the program before the close of 2014, and an additional six will implement CareerWorks: Access in 2015.
CareerWorks proudly places more than 70% of those we serve in full-time jobs. If capacity numbers increase as projected, this means that Atlanta’s homeless population could be reduced by almost 1,000 people, and once homeless men and women find employment, hope and new lives through our program.