Giving Workers a Second Chance

For many people with criminal backgrounds, finding work can be difficult. However, a local non-profit organization, Beacon of Hope, connects those struggling to find work.

The organization was created by Nehemiah Manufacturing, a company focused on “second- chance hiring” since 2009. Nehemiah employs about 120 people, and 80% of its workforce has a criminal record. This includes some workers in leadership roles.

Beacon of Hope consists of 32 companies in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Some of these companies include West Chester Protective Gear, RK Metals, JBM Envelope Company and Packaging Unlimited. Beacon of Hope also recently added some Kroger manufacturing plants and Skyline franchises.

“We partner with social services like CityLink,” said Katie Schad, a social worker for Beacon of Hope. “Once [workers] go through job readiness and have ongoing support — so they have their own case manager walking with them through the process — that’s when we place them in a job.”

Beacon of Hope’s program is designed in three phases. Each phase includes different job positions.

Phase one includes entry level manufacturing jobs and lasts six months to a year on average. Phase two includes positions with more certification, such as forklift drivers or secretaries, and usually lasts another two to three years.

The third phase involves transitioning workers from one company to another of the 32 supporting companies, if the worker chooses to do so, Schad said. “We would approach a company from the Beacon of Hope’s standpoint and say, ‘Yes this person does have a record, but look at how far they’ve come.’ It really depends on each client.”

Between the three phases, hourly payment ranges from $9-$25, the average being $12-$13, Schad said.

Beacon of Hope conducts open interviews on Tuesdays from 9-11 a.m. and is located at 1130 Findlay St. The group requires interviewees to bring a background check.

“We will connect you to a social service if you come to open interviews,” Schad said.