LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association announced Wednesday that it is partnering with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to bring the HOPES (Hospitality Opportunities for People Re-entering Society) program to Michigan.
$4 million will go toward the program across four states: Michigan, Delaware, Ohio and Texas, according to a news release.
HOPES is a job skills program that trains and prepares justice-involved individuals for jobs and careers in the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industries.
MRLA will be working with Peckham Inc, Operational Able, Spectrum Services and SVRC Industries Inc to launch the HOPES program.
“We are honored to play a role in bringing the HOPES program to communities in Michigan to both create a pathway for justice involved individuals into an industry that can become a lifelong career and provide solutions to restaurants and hotels facing a statewide workforce shortage,” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA.
The unemployment rate for individuals leaving the justice system is five times the national average.
HOPES provides skills training, mentoring and job placement services to justice involved individuals, helping them re-enter society and building a pathway to financial stability and independence.
“The hospitality industry is known for being a first job opportunity and offering second chances to people from all backgrounds,” said Amanda Smith, executive director of the MRLA Educational Foundation. “With more than 30,000 industry job openings currently in Michigan, the HOPES program providing training and employment opportunities to justice involved individuals is a viable way to support communities while helping operators hire.”
HOPES partners with departments of corrections, community-based organizations, state restaurant associations and workforce entities as part of a community collaborative model.
These partner organizations provide case management services and industry-recognized credentials utilizing an NRAEF training framework focused on the competencies needed to enter the restaurant and hospitality industry.
HOPES partners with interested individuals at participating correctional facilities, as well as after release and during parole.
Once a HOPES participant completes training, the individual will be placed in a local restaurant or foodservice position and receive follow-up support for one year.
Hospitality apprenticeships are also available to participants.