The city of Gary has received a $120,000 grant for a pilot program designed to give ex-offenders employment and entrepreneurship skills. The Gary 4 Jobs initiative will involve landscaping jobs for the city, as well as coursework on business, life and employment skills. March 12, 2015

News Release

GARY, Ind. - Today, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and representatives from the City of Gary, Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) announced receipt of a $120,000 grant from The JOBS Fund for the pilot year of the Gary 4 Jobs program. This program will engage 25 Gary residents who are underemployed or face employment challenges due to having an ex-offender status.

"We understand that those who have some type of criminal record face a different set of challenges when it comes to securing employment," said Freeman-Wilson. "The Gary 4 Jobs Program, which is a subset of our Gary 4 Life initiative, aims to create opportunities for Gary residents while assisting them with becoming job ready through extensive training."

The training program has two areas of focus -- how to start a business and securing employment in a lawncare or landscaping enterprise. Gary 4 Jobs participants will receive training in mowing, edging, hedge maintenance, weeding and other lawn-care skills. In addition, participants will engage in coursework which will cover steps on starting a business, life-skills, employment skills, mock job interviews and attendance to at least one job fair.

The program's focus on lawncare and landscaping serve as a direct response to the City of Gary's escalated efforts toward blight elimination. Gary 4 Jobs participants will groom overgrown public areas and will receive compensation for the coursework and labor completed on city properties. Bo Kemp oversees the Gary EDC.

"The Jobs Fund grant is the first of many opportunities that the EDC will continue to pursue to put Gary residents to work," said Kemp.

Angela Woolfolk, Treasurer of the The JOBS Fund, recognized Gary as an ideal candidate to receive the grant funds.

"The JOBS Fund is thrilled to grant our first round of funding to the City of Gary for this wonderful program," said Angela Woolfolk "We are confident that it will be a success and look forward to watching the participants thrive."

The JOBS Fund is the 501c3 entity of Chicago-based Community Development Enterprise SCORE. To date, SCORE has issued $40mm in New Markets Tax Credits to qualifying projects located in Cook and Will County, Illinois and Lake County, Indiana.

On March 24, 2015, SCORE will host a New Markets Tax Credit outreach event at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary from 9:00a.m. - 12:00p.m. to share more information with economic development agencies, community leaders and local businesses about eligibility for New Markets Tax Credits. This event is open to the public but requires registration. Please contact Karlen Beitman, Community Outreach Director of SCORE at kbeitman@mccafferyinterests.com to confirm your attendance.

About The JOBS Fund

The JOBS Fund is a 501 c 3 not-for-profit entity of the Southside Community Optimal Redevelopment Enterprise (SCORE). The JOBS Fund grants funding for eligible programs that offer job training, educational programming and other community benefits programs designed to serve the communities that SCORE already serves.

About SCORE

The Southside Community Optimal Redevelopment Enterprise (SCORE) is based in Chicago, Illinois and is a Community Development Enterprise which allocates New Markets Tax Credits to qualified projects that provide quality jobs, support healthcare and education or include fresh food anchors in retail areas. SCORE currently serves Cook County, Illinois, Will County, Illinois and Lake County, Indiana.

Sources: SCORE & JOBS Fund