In the spring of 1997, the Abell Foundation awarded Baltimore City Healthy Start a $250,000 grant to replicate in Baltimore the highly successful East Harlem job placement program called STRIVE. The East Harlem program has been in operation since 1985 and now has affiliate programs in ten other cities, including Baltimore.
The STRIVE model emphasizes attitudinal training, job placement and post-placement support. The program prepares participants for the workforce through a strict, demanding three-week workshop (115 hours) that focuses on sharpening job-seeking and job-readiness skills and improving workplace behavior, appearance and attitude. Upon completion of the training, most STRIVE participants are placed in jobs within three weeks. A key component of the STRIVE program is that its graduates are monitored for a minimum of two years.
Now in its 17th year, STRIVE Baltimore produced impressive results in 2014. Specifically, the program accomplished the following:
- A total of 274 participants graduated from the four-week training program, with 198 graduates (or 72 percent) being placed into jobs and 113 former graduates being placed into jobs, bringing the total number of job placements to 311 people.
- STRIVE graduates placed in employment earned an average of $13.10 per hour, which translates into a full-time salary of $27,248 per year. Eighty percent of those placed receive full-time employment.
- STRIVE continues to work with Baltimore’s hard to serve: 67 percent of those initially placed into jobs were male, 67 percent had a felony or misdemeanor, and 14 percent did not have a high-school diploma/GED.
- Of the placements made in 2014, 78 percent have remained employed for six months.
- The average cost per placement was approximately $3,707 (based on a STRIVE budget of approximately $1,153,003 and 311 placements). This cost is slightly higher than in previous years as the STRIVE workshop was expanded from two to four weeks to offer participants increased access to computer skills training. Thus, fewer people were served.