Mutual of America
2019 Community Partnership Award Winners
Two construction workers in discussion with supervisor

Access to gainful employment is a proven factor in lifting people out of poverty and a key to reducing recidivism for individuals who have gone through the justice system. But the barriers to finding a job for low-income and formerly incarcerated individuals are often considerable, hampering their ability to earn a living, secure housing and provide for themselves and their families.

For more than 35 years, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has been a catalyst for moving low-income families out of poverty toward more prosperous, stable futures through affordable homeownership. In 2016, they created HabiCorps, a first-of-its-kind workforce development program that provides training in the construction trades and landscape/property maintenance industry to Baltimore residents facing significant employment barriers. Under the supervision of skilled instructors, HabiCorps trainees work on Habitat for Humanity projects, gaining hands-on experience in demolition and renovation of existing structures and new construction. During the full-time, 10-month program, they also receive training to achieve various industry certifications, including first aid and CPR.

Vital to HabiCorps’ success is its collaboration with two partners. Aerotek is a recruitment and staffing agency that guides HabiCorps trainees through résumé writing and interview preparation, and Project JumpStart refers trainees to HabiCorps and works with the Baltimore chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors to place graduates into permanent construction jobs. Since 2016, 20 trainees have completed the program and found employment and/or apprenticeships with local construction companies. This year, HabiCorps will train up to 10 individuals in the carpentry trade and five in landscaping and hardscaping, a field with a high demand for skilled workers.

“HabiCorps addresses several critical needs in Baltimore – we provide training for well-paying trade careers and also build affordable housing in underserved communities,” said Mike Posko, Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. “It’s a 360-degree approach that enables us to invest both in people facing employment barriers and the Baltimore neighborhoods they call home. We’re excited to help our affiliates replicate this program on a national scale.”

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake
Project JumpStart