Bridgeport Jobs Program Aims To Give Ex-Offenders A Fresh Start

Bridgeport Jobs Program Aims To Give Ex-Offenders A Fresh Start

The city of Bridgeport is engaging its business community in a second-chance initiative, asking employers to consider hiring ex-offenders and providing funds to pay the first few months of a new worker’s salary.

Mayor Joe Ganim, who understands the importance of second chances, has asked the City Council to approve $50,000 in seed money for the salary pool, which will also include grants and contributions.

The goal, he says, is to convince employers to take a chance on people who are looking for a fresh start. “People really just want an opportunity to work, make a living, support their families,” Ganim said. “I do feel we have an obligation on the local level to step up and take the lead.

The mayor has joined forces with the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and will be asking the Business Council’s 1,000 members to sign a pledge that they would be willing to give ex-offenders an opportunity.

“We thrive based on acceptance of others. We thrive based on second chances,” says Business Council President Paul Timpanelli.

Employers stepping up back to top

Some local employers, such as the University of Bridgeport and Housatonic Community College, have already stepped up and offered their support for the program.

Job trainers in the city, such as Scott Wilderman of Career Resources, Inc. explained that his organization does a great job of providing job-services and training for disadvantaged clients. The next step, he said, is to have employers step in and hire them.

Local dairy owner Douglas Wade is among those who have hired workers with criminal backgrounds. “Any employer that doesn’t take the time to interview these people is missing out on very good employees," Wade said.