Project Jumpstart, forging a workforce to rebuild our community.

The construction training portion of Project Jumpstart prepares graduates for real jobs within the industry.

Over 150 companies participate with the program.

Opportunity, for a second chance

By Chloe Mazzone

The Maryland Chamber Foundation supports sustainable solutions that drive Maryland’s future economy including: talent, education, innovation, economic diversity, infrastructure, business climate, governance and quality of life.


(July 30, 2018—BALTIMORE, Md.) Everybody deserves a second chance. That’s what the founders of Project Jumpstart believe.

The Job Opportunities Task Force and ABC Baltimore have combined forces to provide just that through a 14-week construction training program in Baltimore City that helps put ex-offenders back to work.

The top way to reduce recidivism in Maryland is by connecting ex-offenders with quality economic opportunities. More than 75 percent of those who have entered the Project Jumpstart program over the past 10 years have had a criminal record. While the sole focus of this program is not just providing a second chance, it does play a huge part.

“The job placement rate is between 75 and 80 percent. We have graduated over 1,000 people and we have had more than 120 go on to apprenticeships. Within two years they are making 18 dollars an hour. Within four years they are making over 24 dollars an hour,” said President of ABC Baltimore Mike Henderson.

Figures like these prove that Project Jumpstart is providing their graduates with valuable and sustainable jobs and have helped them overcome reemployment challenges. The program has a proven track record of hardworking graduates, regardless of their background, and there is no significant pushback from employers because of past mistakes.

High expectations are one of the reasons this program is so successful. Before being selected, potential participants go through reading, writing and math assessment tests and have an interview to make sure they’re a good fit.

Jack Diel has been the head instructor for the entirety of the Project Jumpstart program and runs a tight ship to make sure graduates are ready for job sites upon graduation. His class meets twice a week and everyone gets a 25-dollar stipend for each meeting.

“If you’re late, use your cell phone in class, come back late from a break or have an attitude you’ll lose your stipend,” Diel said.

In addition to rigorous training provided by ABC Baltimore, the Job Opportunities Task Force provides case management services for each individual who goes through the program. It covers everything from financial management to legal services, helping those who have past records with challenges they have to overcome.

“The skills gap can certainly be a reason that some people may not be eligible for jobs but a lot of times it is a combination of things. It’s lack of transportation, lack of access to a driver’s license,” said Matt Stubbs, program manager at Job Opportunities Task Force.

“We help with getting all the right tools that a graduate will need when they show up for their first day and mitigating as many employment barriers as possible,” Stubbs explained. “There are challenges to overcome taking care of past charges and case management is there to help.”

One graduate, Reginald, just completed a four year apprenticeship that he secured after his time in the program and is now a general electrician.

Reginald said he was working dead end jobs that didn’t lead him to a career and he wanted a change. Project Jumpstart gave him a skillset he can use anywhere.

For those who go through the program who may have more obstacles to overcome from past troubles, Reginald advised, “Apply yourself, aim high. If you keep your eye on the prize, have tunnel vision and you really want something, than you will overcome any challenge that you will see fit to accomplish your goal.”

“[Project Jumpstart] can help carve you into a better person and give you some sort of direction. It is an organization filled with people who care about what they do and care about the outcome of those that they train,” he furthered. “They will help you overcome your barriers and put you on the right path.”

“You begin to really adore this career, it becomes a part of you. It’s a great feeling.”

If you or anyone you know are looking for an opportunity with Project Jumpstart, check out more information here.


Meet the executive director of the Jobs Opportunities Task Force, Caryn York, in person at our Business Policy Conference this September. York’s panel, Breaking down barriers, will discuss the strides made to increase the employment prospects for those looking for a second chance.

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