SEKO and Buyer Connected Launch City of Refuge Logistics Training Program to Support More Inclusive Hiring Opportunities and Help Former Offenders Thrive Outside of Prison
SEKO Logistics is partnering with retail services client Buyer Connected, Inc. (BCI) to launch a new logistics training program to create employment opportunities for previously incarcerated men and women in Atlanta, Georgia.
As part of the not-for-profit City of Refuge initiative, it aims to support individuals and families in one of country’s most struggling neighborhoods.
The City of Refuge helps people in crisis to thrive in their community, offering food, housing, and emergency healthcare support, while its Reentry Hub provides opportunities to learn new skills through education, job training and financial literacy. By bringing together like-minded community members, organizations and volunteers, the City of Refuge creates jobs, local opportunities, and stronger families in an area where nearly 40% of residents live below the Federal Poverty Level.
Starting in January 2022, the new logistics training program will help recently released, non-violent offenders to re-enter the workplace and begin successful careers. Buyer Connected and SEKO Logistics will provide training support for nearly 250 formerly incarcerated individuals who are transitioning from prison to the community. The two-week training program will host groups of up to 20 people per month and equip participants with the necessary skills to fulfill roles in the ever-growing logistics industry. Training for warehouse management, along with forklift and health and safety certification, all form part of the new program.
The City of Refuge has been providing vocational training for over 10 years and, today, with the help of donors and sponsors, provides a wide range of courses under one roof - preparing students for jobs in the automotive, technology, banking, culinary arts, sales administration, and security sectors.
“When previously incarcerated individuals return to their community, they very often face immediate and multiple issues such as debt, unemployment, broken families and limited access to safe housing. The strain of these factors can lead to increased chances of them returning to prison, but the City of Refuge and its Reentry Hub have proven that when the community works together, we can make amazing things happen. Since 2019, nearly 600 individuals have been placed in stable employment through this program and we know that Buyer Connected and our partner SEKO Logistics can make a positive contribution to help more people,” said Rob Keuten, CEO of Buyer Connected. “As soon as we outlined our plans to the SEKO leadership team to provide a logistics training course, their immediate reaction was ‘We’re all in’. Together, we will work hard to support the City of Refuge program and its goal of reducing recidivism by helping people thrive in their lives outside of prison.”
He added: “As a proud mid-sized, regionally-based organization, having a partner the size of SEKO, with its national infrastructure and leadership in major cities across the US, means we can ultimately scale this initiative to other regions of the country where we can add our logistics training to the courses already being offered for other sectors by City of Refuge supporters.”
SEKO is participating in the program as part of its SEKO Cares initiative, which throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has also purchased and distributed hundreds of thousands of PPE supplies to frontline healthcare workers in the United States and other countries within SEKO’s global network. SEKO Cares also supports the company’s employees and aims to inspire other organizations to ‘pay it forward’ with offers of help and donations to good causes.
“We are proud to be working alongside City of Refuge and Buyer Connected, and to be sharing our expertise to help motivated and engage individuals that are ready to make a fresh start in life to better themselves and build a brighter future for their families. Our Atlanta facility will pilot this new logistics training program, but we already have other SEKO stations asking to join this initiative - which is testimony to our business and community culture. SEKO may be the first partner for this new training, but we encourage all logistics companies, partners and clients to participate, not only to address the labor shortages, but also to create more inclusive hiring and training practices,” stated James Gagne, SEKO’s President & CEO.
The program to help detainees begins 18 months before their release. Case workers determine the individuals in a strong position to succeed, and who will be committed to the program and the opportunity it offers. They then work with each person to understand if they can be a leader in their job, home and community. This support then continues once they find employment.
Founded in Atlanta in 2014 by its President, Jamal Lewis, Buyer Connected is the market leading MBE retail services consultant, specializing in the delivery of in-store solutions. In support of this, SEKO Logistics provides BCI with transport and logistics expertise as its network infrastructure support system. BCI operates a ‘shop in a shop’ model within SEKO warehouse and office facilities, offering ‘brick and mortar’ support, warehousing, and final mile transportation to BCI’s client network, and providing the services and network BCI needs to scale its end-to-end retail solutions.
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