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Growing Job Opportunities for Returning Citizens

For too many North Lawndale residents, getting a job is nearly impossible despite their desire to work. More than half of all North Lawndale adults have had some involvement with the criminal justice system. Each of them faces significant barriers to employment. A partnership between Homan Square and the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) aims to bridge that gap.

Beginning in 2016, Homan Square began hiring graduates of the NLEN U-turn Permitted program, which provides job readiness training and financial coaching to residents returning to the community from incarceration.

“Homan Square is an important employer partner because of their location in Nichols Tower and their welcoming spirit,” said Brenda Palms Barber, NLEN Executive Director. “Many employers deny access to jobs for the returning citizen population. Homan Square gives them a second chance to become connected to the labor market and reach financial stability.”

Since the partnership began, 31 transitional employees have been hired. Transitional workers learn skills they need to get reacclimated to the workforce and eventually secure permanent, unsubsidized jobs. At Homan Square transitional workers are hired as front desk greeters and janitors. Several have gone on to become permanent employees.

Mark Sanders, Chief Program Officer and Director of Institutional Effectiveness at NLEN, says of the partnership, “They’ve been an excellent hiring partner over the last two years. Providing many of our U-Turn Permitted graduates with their first job experience in years. We appreciate the commitment Homan Square has demonstrated in helping our graduates turn their lives around.”