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Columbus Launches Career Development Program For Recently Incarcerated People

Paige Pfleger
Two participants of the EDGE program raise their fists across the table from Mayor Andrew Ginther.

Columbus city leaders celebrated the inaugural class of a new career development program to help recently incarcerated individuals find jobs.

At Alvis in Grandview on Thursday, a group of people with a history of incarceration gathered around a table listening to Dr. Patrice Palmer.

"What do they tell us?" Palmer asks.

“We’re no good!” one man shouts. “We’ll be back,” says another. “We can’t change.”

These 30 people are the first class for the new EDGE program, which stands for "Empower Development to Gain Employment." The program lasts five months, five days a week, and will teach soft and hard skills in hopes of connecting newly-released people to jobs.

“What this program is telling us is what?” Palmer asks.

The attendees respond: “We can change.” “We will change.” “There are people out there that care.” “I am worthy.” “Anything is possible.”

Credit Paige Pfleger / WOSU
Mayor Andrew Ginther takes a selfie with a participant in the EDGE program.

Mayor Andrew Ginther told the participants how excited he is to watch their journey.

“Everybody deserves a chance to support themselves, their family, and contribute to their community,” Ginther said. “It's going to be challenging. It's going to be difficult. At times it's going to be downright frustrating. You are worth it. You are worthy. You are valuable. You have significance to this community.

The program is a partnership between the city, Alvis, and the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio. It's replacing the Restoration Academy, a defunct program with a similar aim.

“Your mayor, your city, your county, your entire community is on your side,” Ginther told the group. “We're counting on you.”

The inaugural class will graduate this summer, and there is already a waitlist for the next cycle.