Promoting our Partners: San Diego Second Chance

First off, we just want you to know we are truly grateful to have partners like you and it gives us great pleasure to highlight the great work your organization is doing in the community.  Therefore, could you share with us a bit more about Second Chance? How did you get started? What is your mission and how do you serve the community of San Diego?

Second Chance Mission: To disrupt the cycle of incarceration and poverty by helping people find their way to self-sufficiency.

  • Our programs provide job readiness and life skills training, job placement, behavioral health treatment and prisoner reentry services, relapse prevention and sober living housing for adults and youth in need.
  • We address generational issues of poverty, unemployment, addiction, abuse, neglect, criminal thinking and homelessness.
  • We foster behavioral changes that promote personal responsibility, healthy relationships and positive contributions to society.
  • We emphasize personal responsibility, professional discipline and a positive work ethic.

Founded in 1993, Second Chance strives to ensure all members of our community have the means to achieve self-sufficiency, regardless of age, race, or criminal history. In other words, whether one struggles with addiction, incarceration, homelessness, a family history of criminal behavior or gang involvement, or you just took a wrong turn in life, Second Chance can help you find your way to a positive, successful future.

secondchance-frontofbuildingJob Readiness Training
Our core adult program consists of nine 160-hour, four-week classes per year. The classes initially focus on attitudinal changes and professional disciplines, followed by job readiness, computer literacy, financial literacy and job placement.

Since our founding, we have served more than 14,500 individuals, graduated 5,000 from our Job Readiness Training Program and currently are working with an average of 1,100 men, women and youth each year. Over the last ten years nearly 4,000 graduates have found jobs with 1,750 employers.
Anyone can come to Second Chance. However, the fact is 80% of the adults we serve are ex-offenders with multiple obstacles to employment. Even with those barriers, we are able to help people gain the self-confidence and skills they need to get and keep a job. Seventy-five percent of our graduates find employment within six months of graduation.  Two years later, 70% percent are still employed.

Sober Living Housing
Second Chance Sober Living Housing provides quality and supportive housing, helping our residents consistently progress towards self-sufficiency. We operate nine sober living properties overseen by trained housing managers. Our goals are to foster personal responsibility, restore self-esteem and self-confidence, and eliminate isolation by creating a community atmosphere – all with the ultimate goal of staying clean and sober and transitioning to independent living. Residents come from all walks of life and backgrounds. The program is designed to offer a safe, supportive, substance-free home that supports your recovery and fosters your personal growth.

Upcoming Program Growth: Second Chance recently secured new workforce development contracts that will give us the ability to provide workforce training to adult offenders while they are still in custody and offer pathways to earn-and-learn apprenticeships for outstanding adults from our Job Readiness Training course.

secondchance-groupphotoYouth Services
Since 2009, we have served more than 600 youth who have been or are currently incarcerated. Current programs are STRIVE Forward, the Youthful Offender Rehabilitation Program and Transitional Youth Housing. The majority of the youth we serve come from families with histories of poverty, gang membership, drug addiction or parental absence due to incarceration.

STRIVE Forward integrates skill development, academic learning, and job experience with intensive case management and supportive services.  The program offers job readiness training, one-on-one mentoring and paid internships working in our organic Youth Garden or with local businesses. Academic learning is provided in partnership with the County Office of Education, Juvenile Court and Community Schools. We focus on tracking outcomes, which enables Second Chance to take a more research-driven approach that is better equipped to assist participants as they acclimate into society. Eighty percent of participants are placed in internships, employment or secondary education.

Youthful Offender Rehabilitation Program uses evidence-based curricula and cognitive behavioral training and interventions to aid incarcerated youth. Working in the Youthful Offender Units at East Mesa and Kearny Mesa, counselors deliver 35 group sessions per week focused on anger management, healthy relationships, victim awareness, criminogenic thinking and substance abuse. Counselors continue regular contact with youth after release until released from probation.

Transitional Youth Housing offers up to two years of stable housing, intensive case management and access to education, behavioral health and other social services, job readiness training and job placement for ten emancipated foster youth each year.

What is your role with the organization and how long have you been with Second Chance?

I am the Vice President, Advancement & External Affairs.  I manage all fundraising, marketing/communications and government relations for Second Chance. I have been with SC four years.

Do you have any exciting plans for 2016? Upcoming events?

April 5, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. we will host our 10th Annual Job & Resource Fair at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovations. Over 30 employers and 30 local resource providers will be onsite to accept applications and, in some cases, interview for positions.

If someone wanted to get involved with Second Chance in some capacity, what are some ways they might do that?

Second Chance employs the service of approximately 100 volunteers across all of our programs on an annual basis. Each of our adult Job Readiness Training workshops traditionally has a Class Champion: a volunteer “cheerleader” who “adopts” a class and offers advice and encouragement during the four-week workshop, providing volunteers the opportunity to connect deeply with the mission and impact of our adult program. In 2015, we began offering the Class Champion opportunity to corporate teams. The team is asked to attend orientation and graduation and as many classes throughout the four-week schedule as they can. They listen, answer questions, encourage, occasionally participate physically in the team building exercises, or sometimes just hold a hand. They are introduced on the first day of class and are asked to speak at graduation. Since it is difficult for one person who is working full time to visit often, the team members take turns and fill each other in on what they experienced with the class. Bank of America has previously served as the Team Class Champion for Class 195 in November 2015. Other community leaders serve as mock interviewers who ably prepare Job Readiness Training clients with a performance critique of their soft skills. Job Readiness Training also incorporates a financial literacy course and multiple inspirational speakers from all walks of life during each four-week class. Volunteers can often be found running and/or organizing professional clothing drives to keep both youth and adult participants looking their best for interviews and other job-related occasions. Other volunteer opportunities involve mentorships, grounds maintenance, public relations, marketing, special event coordination (such as planning for our Job Fair in April 2016) and a variety of other jobs.

Of course, financial donations are always appreciated. Second Chance offers all programs (except housing) free of charge to participants. In order to maintain the delivery of these services, we depend on the generosity of our supporters; individuals, foundations and corporations.

Finally, how can SDFF help your organization achieve your goals in 2016?

Share Facebook posts and Tweets, spread the good word about the need for justice reform, give a graduate a job, and (of course) keep our computers up and running!