Minnesota DEED allocates $3 million for formerly incarcerated to find work

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(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced it is allocating $3 million towards helping people that have been to prison find work. 

The new grant program is called Workforce Grants for Second-chance Workers.

Organizations in Southeast Minnesota are excited the state has awarded a large sum towards this cause. They say it has the power to change people’s lives.

“We’ve been rehabilitated. Just give us our shot,” said Dondi Mcintosh, who works with Three Rivers Restorative Justice.

Mcintosh was released from prison at the Federal Medical Center around two years ago. He was incarcerated for 15 years. Recounting barriers to rehabilitation after prison, he said it is hard to get housing, transportation, and a job.

“So many things you’re not ready for because you just can’t get that type of understanding and teaching while you’re incarcerated,” Mcintosh explained trying to assimilate back into society as wave after wave crashed over him in the ocean.

“A lot of these guys have been working hard inside of prison to try and change themselves. And they’re going to be some of the best workers,” said Kendall Hughes, Chair of the Three Rivers Restorative Justice Board of Directors.

The DEED grants will expand resources like career counseling and skills training, both of which Hughes and Mcintosh say people need after being released from prison.

The state also hopes this will help solve the historic worker shortage.

“Minnesota’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the nation and companies statewide are looking for qualified workers to fill open 

positions in numerous fields,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. 

“Individuals transitioning back into the community after serving their time are ready to work.”

Locally, Dodge Filmore Olmsted Community Corrections says when people find stable employment after being released, they are less likely to re-offend and get back in the system.

“A lot of times criminal behaviors are because of things like ‘lack of.’ Like: I steal because I’m hungry,” explained DFO Director Nikki Niles.

That rings true for Mcintosh.

“Having that opportunity to kick down doors. I’m excited about going to work because somebody gave me a shot,” he said.

DFO Community Corrections says they will learn more about these grants next week. After that, they plan to apply. 

An informational webinar will be held on Tuesday, October 18 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. to learn more.

Those interested in restorative justice can find more information below.