Since our country’s founding, “home” has been the center of the American dream.
Yet without the hope of a steady job, it is nearly impossible for a growing number
of citizens to find a safe place to rest their heads each night. For those individuals,
a lack of gainful employment may mean the risk of being one paycheck, an illness
or an accident away from homelessness.
The Doe Fund, a New York City-based nonprofit, has developed an award-winning program
that helps move people out of cycles of homelessness, incarceration and addiction.
Launched in 1990, Ready, Willing & Able has helped more than 22,000 homeless and
formerly incarcerated men rebuild their lives by giving them “a room and a job to
pay for it.”
The path to responsibility begins with a period of transitional work, where trainees
relearn healthy work habits while sweeping litter from city streets. At night, they
return to dormitories where they complete a rigorous nine-month program of life-
and job-skills training in a choice of high-growth industries. Then, program graduates
are given assistance finding a stable entry-level job and a permanent place to live.
They also receive the promise of ongoing support to promote job retention and career
Collaboration is crucial to the program’s success. Local business partners, such
as Mount Sinai Hospital and Common Ground, offer qualified Doe Fund trainees internship
and full-time employment opportunities in areas offering job mobility and wage growth.
“Ready, Willing & Able proves that true change requires a hand up, not a handout,”
said Jocelyn Gross, Senior Manager of Foundations and Corporate Partnerships. “Through
our partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital and Common Ground alone, more than 100
trainees in the last four years have gone on to lead independent, productive and
law-abiding lives. It’s a life-changing model that we feel confident can work anywhere.”