Have you ever been convicted of a felony?: Kelly's Story

After five years in prison, Kelly exited seeking to rebuild her life and find work that would allow her to be economically self-sufficient. 

“Have you ever been convicted of a felony? If yes, explain.” These words are on nearly every application for employment, and Kelly quickly discovered that there are very few employers willing to give a second chance to someone with a record within the criminal justice system.

Unable to find work and re-adjust to the community, Kelly realized that she was at-risk to be drawn back into crime and substance abuse. She contacted the Grand Rapids Urban League and met with a specialist from their Employment and Workforce Development program. This program helps people prepare for employment through job readiness assessment, pre-employment training, and referrals. Individuals with barriers to employment like Kelly are also helped to stabilize within the community and learn new, marketable skills.

With the help of the Urban League, Kelly was hired at a local restaurant and has become one of their top employees! She earns an average of $500 a week from her tips, has maintained her sobriety for 2 years, and has enrolled in a home ownership program with the goal of buying her own home.

Funding from Heart of West Michigan United Way allows the Urban League to provide pre-employment assessments, job-readiness training, support services, referrals, and ultimately, job placement for those in need.