Goodwill on Capitol Hill
Goodwill Central Texas (GCT) was proud to be part of Goodwill Advocacy Day on April 15, 2015 in Washington DC. Two GCT program participants, William Stockton and Jessica Parker (pictured here), along with Goodwill staffers, traveled to Capitol Hill to share stories, network with lawmakers and their staff, and advocate for legislation integral to our community’s success and progress, especially when it affects ex-offenders and minor offenders and their job and educational opportunities.
Last year, shortly after Goodwill visited Washington, D.C., President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), an overwhelmingly bipartisan, bicameral deal to improve the nation’s workforce development system. The law makes important advancements, including an emphasis on serving out-of-school youth, creating career pathways that bridge to post-secondary education, and enhanced employer engagement.
This year, we shared with legislators that Goodwill supports funding that will ensure the smooth implementation of the law’s new provisions. We asked Congress to fund WIOA programs to their fully authorized levels. This will ensure that the education (especially in middle skills), job training and other programs that Goodwill offers will stay in place or be improved.
Also on this year’s agenda was a discussion on the Second Chance Act Reauthorization. Approximately two-thirds of the individuals who are released from incarceration will recidivate within three years of the release. Goodwill believes that helping people with criminal backgrounds to attain and retain jobs is an integral part of the solution to reducing recidivism, supporting families, and strengthening communities that are disproportionately affected by crime. Goodwill is asking Congress to provide $100 million in funding in fiscal year 2016 to support the programs authorized under the Second Chance Act.
Jessica and William were well-prepared and incredibly excited to share their stories. For William and Jessica, this was nothing out of the ordinary. As Real Goodwill Tour speakers, who tell their story with emotion and candor, it was empowering to describe how WIOA funds played a significant role in their lives.
Jessica excitedly reports, “D.C. was amazing; so fun. EPIC! They [Representatives and their staff] actually listened to what I had to say! Representative Michael McCaul said that I was a pioneer, and that I should be proud of myself. That meant so much to me! The whole experience was very motivating and gave me strength and hope and confidence.”
William says, “The opportunity to speak before them [Representatives and their staff] and tell them my story is a way to get to the center of their heart, so they can hear it come from a human standpoint. Goodwill gives hope.”
But Goodwill can’t do it alone, according to Ana Rummer, Communications Manager for Goodwill Central Texas. “Advocacy Day provides an opportunity for Goodwills all across the nation to come together and have a united voice – we’re all here for many of the same reasons – to insure that individuals that have barriers to employment are able to find jobs. Support from our government makes it happen.”
Goodwill advocates pounded the pavement for a full day in support of funding these Acts, and showed Washington just how important both are for our Central Texas community.
The Goodwill staff deemed Advocacy Day 2015 a great success – or, as in Jessica’s words, Epic.