The Doe Fund's mission is to develop and implement cost-effective, holistic programs that meet the needs of a diverse population working to break the cycles of homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism. All of The Doe Fund's programs and innovative business ventures help homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals achieve permanent self-sufficiency.
Since its inception, The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing, & Able (RWA) program has grown into one of the nation’s premier providers of workforce training, enabling nearly 4,000 individuals to move into responsible lives of honest employment and sobriety. In 1996, The Doe Fund responded to the need for affordable and supportive housing for RWA graduates and people whose illness or disabling conditions put them at risk of homelessness. Currently, we provide 246 housing units to such individuals, including those with HIV/AIDS; working families and individuals with low incomes; and those with substance abuse disorders—all of whom are beginning lives of independence and self-sufficiency.
The Doe Fund also has adapted RWA for two subset populations: parolees and veterans. In 2001, to address the rising crisis in criminal recidivism, The Doe Fund modified RWA for recent parolees. The results speak for themselves. Nationwide, the recidivism rate within one year of release is 44.1%; for our graduates, it is 3%. In April 2009, The Doe Fund expanded its services even further, opening its doors to homeless veterans at the Peter Jay Sharp Center for Opportunity, where RWA programs and special services help 138 former servicemen embark on a road to independent and productive lives.
Each day, in three facilities in New York and another site in Philadelphia, RWA empowers nearly 700 trainees to achieve full-time employment, independent housing, and sobriety. Key program elements are summarized below:
Transitional Housing: RWA provides transitional housing and three nutritious meals a day in four immaculately-maintained facilities. Residents agree to maintain sobriety, work 30 hours weekly, and not seek or apply for public assistance, except for Medicaid.
Orientation: During the first month, trainees live and work on the premises, learning program rules, developing personal plans with case managers, and obtaining documents needed for identification. Trainees attend a six-hour computer class, learning the skills needed to begin a job search: Internet and email usage and basic typing.
Transitional Employment: Through the Community Improvement Project, trainees clean 150 miles of city streets, earning $7.40 to $8.15 hourly and gaining “soft” skills of employment such as the ability to work in teams, solve problems, relate well to peers, and take supervision.
Occupational Training: Trainees receive field and classroom instruction through The Doe Fund’s occupational training tracks and social enterprises. These include Resource Recovery (waste oil collection for biodiesel conversion), Pest@Rest (integrated pest management), culinary arts, building maintenance, custodial services, security, and animal care. Several programs provide the opportunity to obtain industry certifications and licenses.
Comprehensive Support Services and Life Skills Education: Case Managers develop and implement individualized plans to help trainees overcome obstacles to employment, housing, and sobriety. To maintain their sobriety, trainees attend relapse prevention classes and can participate in onsite Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Mandatory drug testing twice weekly ensures identification of trainees needing referral to treatment programs. We conduct life skills classes, and help trainees to improve their parenting skills, resume child support payments, and arrange manageable payment schedules for arrears.
Computer Education: All trainees are required to attend a six-hour class, learning basic computer and Internet skills. Additionally, an intensive four-month course provides a solid foundation for computer literacy and stresses skills needed to seek, obtain, and retain employment. Topics include general usage and hardware; terminology; documenting data for a resume; Windows and Microsoft applications; keyboarding skills; and the Internet.
Financial Management: Trainees attend financial management classes, where they learn how to budget, plan, and set financial goals; obtain credit information and resolve legal issues; and begin repaying debts. With their earnings, trainees are required to contribute $100 per week for room and board and to save part of each paycheck ($32 to $34.50 each week).
Career Development and Graduate Services: Career Development Specialists help trainees obtain jobs in fields with potential for wage growth and advancement. Trainees attend weekly classes on job search methods, résumé preparation, and interview skills. Once trainees have secured employment, we monitor their progress and develop plans for career growth. Each graduate receives a $1,000 grant, distributed in $200 installments over the first five months after graduation, contingent on passing drug tests and documenting housing and employment.