We would like our website to look alive and current, with the ability to use newsfeeds or other features that show our material is up to date. It should be easy for users to navigate and include interactive and downloadable elements. It is also important that the technology used for set up is easy for people without IT experience to use, so we can update it easily internally.
The North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) was founded in 1999 to serve North Lawndale residentsâ€™ employment needs. Typically, NLEN clients are West Side residents, 87% are African American and 6% are Latino, 63% have a high school credential or less education, and more than one-third have never held a job. They are all low income and many have criminal convictions. Job seekers with a criminal record are offered half as many positions as those without criminal records, and African American applicants receive two-thirds fewer offers. Yet without employment, 60% of released prisoners return to prison within three years.
Our programs address these employment barriers and provide services that help people get and keep jobs with living wages. These programs include U-Turn Permitted (four weeks of re-entry and employment services to the formerly incarcerated); Sweet Beginnings (90-day transitional jobs for U-Turn Permitted graduates); Resource Center (access to job search resources and assistance); Center for Working Families (financial literacy training and access to financial support); and Urban Weatherization Initiative (job training and certification as a building weatherization inspector by the Building Performance Institute).
Today, NLEN serves over 1,800 clients each year. Our Sweet Beginnings social enterprise currently employs 30 former offenders per year (260 to date) and their prison recidivism rate is only 4% (compared to 60% nationally). During fiscal year 2012, 110 clients graduated from U-Turn Permitted, with 83% (91) of those clients finding work through NLENâ€™s network of employers or on their own.
Our website is an important point of contact for potential donors and employers looking to hire our clients. It is important that the quality of our website reflects the quality of the services we provide. No less important, we wish to make the website user-friendly for our clients. We would like to use the website to facilitate some of our services, such as posting forms clients need to get identification cards, career matching tools, access to educational resources, etc. We will also use a more interactive, user-friendly website to engage our job-seeking clients with social media and online job search tools.
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