Funding drying up for non-profit that gives job training for people leaving gangs and prison
The funding for a local non-profit to provide job training for people leaving gangs and prison is drying up.
Build Inc. is a social enterprise organization that hires and trains people who face barriers getting a job, like those leaving prison, getting out of gangs, or aging out of CFS. The organization renovates affordable housing.
The program’s future, however, may be at risk. The group’s executive director Sean Hogan says they were told by the province there would be no new deal for training money.
“About two weeks ago they told us they don’t want to move forward with us,” he said.
Hogan said a contract with the province for $800,000 in annual funding stopped in 2018. Since then, they’ve been able to get by on one-time federal money, a provincial bridge grant and whatever profits they earned.
He said a new deal was being negotiated with the province, who then backed out.
He said the program saves the government money by giving people skills and jobs, keeping them off social assistance and out of jail.
“You know what’s not expensive is when someone has a full-time job and is paying taxes themselves,” he said.
The uncertain future for the program is a concern for Kendra Ahmo, who was accepted into the Build Inc. training program at the age of 25.
“I was just really sitting at home wondering what I should do,” she said, adding once she got into the program she learned to paint, patch and use power tools.
Now she wants to go back to school and get an apprenticeship.
“When I started with my training I was really closed within myself and shy and stuff like that. It really gave me the confidence to be out there more and put myself out there.”
Ahmo said she doesn’t know what she would have done without Build’s training. She believes it saves lives, and she’s sad to hear the program may be gone.
“It really sucks. Build – they don’t discriminate, they want you to come and they want to help you,” she said.
A statement the province says an RFP for training services is being issued which Build Inc. can apply for and it hinted at other measures.
“Work continues on exploring options and finding more partners for social innovation projects,” the statement reads.
Hogan estimates with inflation and minimum wage increases, Build would now need around $1 million a year for the training.
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