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80 graduate from program that finds employment for men and women with a criminal past

November 27, 2018, Cherri Gregg - KYW Newsradio

(the Uplift Workforce Solutions gradtuation ceremony at Temple/photo by Cherri Gregg)

Brandon McCoy describes his vision for himself: "To be productive and make good decisions."

McCoy is one of 80 men and women who completed Uplift Workforce Solutions, a program that provides four weeks of life skills training and two weeks of technical training to the formerly incarcerated and puts them to work. After walking across the stage at Temple's Mitten Hall at a graduation ceremony on Tuesday, he will start a job at Brown's ShopRite in Philadelphia as an overnight grocery clerk.

"I am super excited. This is a great opportunity," he said. "It's just a stepping stone for me to do bigger and greater things."

McCoy, who has a criminal record, says he's had a tough time securing a job throughout his life. But he never gave up. He was one of more than 500 who packed into a classroom in Temple's Ritter Hall back in August for the chance to get into the six-week program.

"We wound up taking about 100 people into the program thus far — and we have more people on the waiting list," Uplift's director, Barry Johnson, said. "We wish we could expand and have a bigger capacity — but for those who qualify, we hope to bring them into a future cohort."

The need for jobs for the formerly incarcerated is at an all-time high.

The program pays attendees a $100 weekly stipend, and provides a TransPass and a free lunch each day. In addition, all graduates are guaranteed an entry-level position at one of a number of grocery store partners.

Read more about the graduating cohort here!

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