Remarks by Wendell E. Kimbrough, ARCHS' Chief Executive Officer
Gateway Center for Giving's People in Philanthropy Luncheon
March 8, 2016, St. Louis Community College-Forest Park
ARCHS is pleased and privileged to collaborate with Gateway Center for Giving and St. Louis Community College in hosting this networking luncheon. We welcome you all. We are thrilled that you are here.
So why are we meeting in the Anheuser Busch Dining Room? Because ARCHS wants you to enjoy delicious and healthy food in a relaxed setting that you might not be familiar with, thanks to the success of ARCHS' Culinary Institute.
ARCHS has a 13 year history of funding life skills-building, job training, and career placement opportunities for ex-offenders, and one of our best programs happens right here, in the Hospitality Studies Building. At this time, I would like three of the 48 graduates of ARCHS' Culinary Institute to stand and be recognized for their success. They took time out from their food industry careers at local restaurants to be with you today.
Beginning in 2003, ARCHS has operated nine specific programs that have served 1,400 ex-offenders and 4,000 prisoner reentry professionals through partnerships among public and private funders, with the impact of increasing earnings and public safety, and decreasing recidivism. I'd like share with you some highlights of our 13 years of successful funding.
In 2003, ARCHS partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor to fund a program that assisted more than 300 women being released from federal prison to achieve and maintain employment in a range of careers that are not typical or traditional for women, for example, construction, cabinetmaking, computer maintenance, and culinary jobs. Why non-traditional careers for women? Because jobs in these careers pay more, in part because traditionally they employ more men than women.
In 2007, ARCHS partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor to fund a program assisting more than 600 ex-offenders coming out of prisons from the bi-state in life skills building and job training, including culinary training. ARCHS' program resulted in ex-offenders placed in jobs with annual earnings of $5.6 million (vs. the comparable $5.2 million estimated cost to incarcerate the same number of people). 95% of these 600 ex-offenders remained out of prison, compared with the average rate of 35%.
In 2009, ARCHS was the only organization in Missouri to partner with the U.S. Department of Justice in the first round of the "Second Chance Act". ARCHS funded an innovative pre/post release mentoring and post release jobs training program involving 250 offenders from the three Missouri prisons located nearest to the St. Louis region. After job training, including culinary training, the average length of employment was six to nine months, compared with the three-month employment period that constitutes success according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 95% of these 250 ex-offenders did not return to prison.
Building on these previous 10 years of ex-offender employment success, in 2013 ARCHS launched its Culinary Institute for Women. The program serves female ex-offenders, leading to food safety national certification and job placement, and toward a non-traditional, higher paying career path. Of our 62 students enrolled since 2013, 48students or 77% graduated. 56% of our graduates earned the food safety national certification, on par with the national average. 67% of our graduates were placed in jobs, compared with about a 50% national employment rate for ex-offenders. And 95% of our graduates have not returned to prison, compared with only 35% nationally.
ARCHS is exploring opportunities to expand its Culinary Institute to other disenfranchised individuals, in addition to ex-offenders, for example to military veteran populations and welfare-to-work populations. ARCHS' Reentry Culinary Institute impacts the lives of those seeking another chance, yet facing barriers in advocating for themselves to identify resources that will offer them a hand up, not a hand out. This culinary training program places individuals seeking resources in contact with the community college system, faith-based and community-based organizations, and public agencies — all working in coordination to strengthen the delivery of education and social services currently offered in the St. Louis region.