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When people get out of prison, they are being released into this chaotic city — a city that has greatly transformed in recent years — and it’s a fragile time,” says Matthew Snope. 

Matt is a case manager for CJCJ’s San Francisco Training Partnership (SFTP) program, which focuses on connecting homeless, formerly incarcerated people to education, job training, and even jobs. SFTP is a collaborative between CJCJ, Mission Hiring Hall, and the City and County of San Francisco. This partnership creates a network of resources and services to assist clients who face challenges after incarceration.

We work with people who are battling substance abuse issues, trauma and other issues that can be self-destructive,” says Matt. It’s not only about getting a job, it’s really about keeping it and building upon their skills and getting to that next level, and that’s what seems daunting.”

Matt Snope teaching Awakening New Futures

While job-hunting is a struggle for many, formerly incarcerated job seekers have some added barriers that can make it difficult to secure reliable employment. Not only does the practice of company background checks put those with a criminal record at a disadvantage, but many of SFTP clients are managing addiction, mental health issues, past trauma, and a limited education.

To mitigate these barriers, STFP provides a job skills class called Awakening New Futures (ANF), a one-week course focusing on hard skills like writing an effective resume and cover letter, interviewing, and how to talk about their criminal history. Students also receive professional clothing, some donated by Men’s Wearhouse, to wear in future interviews.

We also try to show our students that their past is not always going to haunt them, and that there are employers that value the skills and experience that they have regardless of where it came from,” says Matt.

Case managers want to support their clients, but supplying the motivation for reentry requires mutual commitment. Nothing is easy and nothing is free,” says Shona Pikula, ANF instructor and case manager for CJCJ’s Homeless Employment Collaborative program. It’s hard to come up and out of incarceration or homelessness, and you have to work for it. I try to help my clients realize the reality of their situation. They’re already coming in with barriers, but learning the right work ethics will help.”

SFTP strives to connect clients to resources, and partners with local agencies to cover the costs for training courses, certification courses, and community college credits. The partnership also aims to builds relationships with employment agencies that hire formerly incarcerated people and connect clients with jobs.

What we’re trying to do in the class is, in a relatively short amount of time, tap into the skills our clients have and figure out how we can help them best,” says Matt. It’s valuable for them to work with other people who have been through a similar situation, and realize other people are also trying to get back on their feet.”