Last week Riverfront North Partnership and our friends from Center for Employment Opportunities made the news! Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller visited the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) in Philadelphia — the largest SNAP 50/50 site by enrollment in the commonwealth. SNAP 50/50 provides job-specific skills training and creates pathways to employment for people who receive food assistance through SNAP.
Secretary Miller met with CEO enrollees who help maintain green space, build and maintain trails, and plant trees and other foliage in Pennypack Park along the Delaware River in collaboration with Philadelphia’s Riverfront North Partnership.
“DHS is proud to work with SNAP 50/50 programs that are working to help break the cycle of poverty and help people build better lives,” said Secretary Miller. “It’s our mission to ensure that people who are receiving SNAP know that there are programs like CEO Philadelphia that can help put them on a path towards success in the workforce, self-sufficiency, and a better life without needing public assistance.”
CEO provides immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services exclusively to people recently released from incarceration. CEO delivers its model of transitional employment, job coaching and placement, and retention services in 25 cities across nine states to returning citizens who are confronted with significant barriers to employment.
CEO launched in Philadelphia in 2015. In its first year, CEO began working with the Philadelphia workforce and reentry community and has built mutually reinforcing partnerships with agencies across the city to provide deeper supports to participants. CEO has been an active member of the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition and Project Safe Neighborhoods. CEO’s first year in Philadelphia well exceeded its benchmarks for a first-year site, placing 121 people in full-time employment and retaining 50 percent after 180 days. These early indications demonstrated the capacity of Philadelphia’s employer community to consider and hire participants at a significant scale and overall demand for CEO’s services. Since inception, CEO Philadelphia has enrolled just about 650 participants and has placed almost 400 participants in unsubsidized full-time jobs.
CEO’s model has been rigorously evaluated. A study found that participation in CEO’s programs reduced re-arrests, reconviction, and re-incarceration of recently released individuals by statistically significant margins of 16-25 percent in the three years following release from prison. Among participants assessed as high risk for re-incarceration, CEO’s program was especially effective, producing a 30 percent reduction in prison bed days.
September is National Hunger Action Month. In Pennsylvania, approximately 1.53 million Pennsylvanians experience chronic hunger and food insecurity every day. Food insecurity means not having access to reliable and nutritious meals. Since hunger and health are deeply connected, the effects of inadequate food are profound. Those effects include increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased healthcare costs. Programs like SNAP help working adults, people with disabilities, older adults, and children access food and expand their purchasing power so they do not have to choose between paying for a doctor’s appointment or being able to eat dinner. SNAP 50/50 sites help SNAP recipients grow skills, succeed in the workforce, and enjoy a better life without public assistance.
SNAP 50/50 sites are partnerships between non-profit organizations, the United States Department of Agriculture, and DHS at the state level. Non-profit organizations leverage their funding with matched funds from the federal government to provide career-specific skills training for people receiving SNAP benefits. SNAP 50/50 program participants gain skills through program completion that help them get a job and excel in career paths like culinary arts, hospitality, banking, health care, and skilled labor. The programs also help with job placement and job retention skills.
Low-income individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or SNAP benefits are subject to work requirements in order to maintain eligibility for benefits. Participation in certain education or training programs can meet those requirements, and SNAP 50/50 allows participants to pursue education and training at these programs and remain in compliance with federal work requirements. Individuals already receiving SNAP may initiate enrollment in a 50/50 program either through the training provider directly or by talking to their county assistance office caseworker.
SNAP 50/50 partnerships come at no cost to the commonwealth and create great value by helping participants gain in-demand skills that can help them find a career path and move off public assistance like SNAP and reach self-sufficiency. By helping participants move into the workforce, SNAP 50/50 supports communities that need skilled workers and helps broaden the state tax base.
There are currently 14 SNAP 50/50 programs around Pennsylvania, and DHS is on track to grow the number of SNAP 50/50 sites around the commonwealth to 30 partnerships by the end of the year.
For more information on DHS’ employment and training programs, visit www.dhs.pa.govOpens In A New Window