U.S. Department of Labor Funding Assists Young People Exiting the Criminal Justice System


Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana is one of five Goodwill agencies across the nation rolling out a $4 million U.S. Department of Labor LifeLaunch young adult re-entry program to improve employment and reduce recidivism among justice-involved young adults.  Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana received $550,000.  The other four Goodwill agencies awarded the grant are Goodwill Central Texas (Austin), Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, Goodwill Industries of Houston and Goodwill Industries of Conemaugh Valley (Johnstown, PA).  In New Orleans, the program will provide access to job training, employment and support services to 100 young adults, ages 18-24.

LifeLaunch is 80 percent federally funded; the remaining 20 percent is from non-governmental sources. The grant is part of a larger $64.5 million package of grants, approved during the Obama Administration to help break the cycle of poverty, crime and incarceration in America.

The objective of LifeLaunch is to (1) protect community safety through the successful reintegration of offenders returning to the community and (2) ensure that offenders become responsible citizens, are provided with employment and education opportunities, and sustain stable residence.

LifeLaunch is designed to disrupt justice involvement among young adults by providing rewarding alternatives that lead to employment, career advancement and reduced risk of recidivism. Specifically, the program will prepare young adults with the academic competencies and credentials needed in the 21st century labor market, including providing access to high school diplomas or equivalents, postsecondary training, credentials aligned with local labor market demand, service learning opportunities, and paid work-based learning that contributes to employment readiness and provides real-world learning while doing.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 650,000 people are released from prison every year.  In Louisiana, the state imprisons more of its people than any of its U.S. counterparts with 38,030 in prison, a rate of 816 per 100,000. And because the United States leads the world in incarceration, that makes Louisiana number one in the world for incarcerating its people.

Young offenders who exit the correctional system are faced with a myriad of challenges that include a lack of education and employment skills, antisocial attitudes and values, mental health and substance abuse problems, medical issues, lack of housing, and family issues, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration Division, Office of Grants Management.

“We believe that people are deserving of a second chance for success,” said Bill Jessee, president of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana.  “The LifeLaunch program will expand and enhance skills training and employment services for justice-involved young adults in our communities, measures which have proven to positively impact recidivism reduction.”

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana has provided re-entry services since its first Reintegration grant in 2012 that served 343 formerly incarcerated individuals.  During that program period, 61% of the participants entered employment and 81% of the participants obtained a nationally recognized training credential.  The final recidivism rate of that program was 5%.   Today, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana operates four re-entry programs that help people prepare for reentry and obtain the services they need to obtain gainful employment, overcome re-entry barriers and avoid recidivism.

Although mostly known for its stores, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana is a 501C3 nonprofit organization and one of a network of 163 agencies in the U.S. and Canada with a mission of providing job training, education, services and employment opportunities to people with barriers to employment.  All Goodwill agencies are independently governed by a local board of directors and provide programs and services tailored to the needs of the communities in which they operate.


For more information about LifeLaunch or Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, visit or call 504-456-2622. 


About Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, Inc.

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana provides opportunities to people with disabilities and other barriers to improve their economic self-sufficiency through job training, education, support services and employment.  In 2015, Goodwill’s Workforce Development & Mission Services Division served 2,049 individuals and placed 231 people into sustainable employment. Goodwill operates 35 janitorial and grounds maintenance contracts and 21 retail stores in 17 cities in southeastern Louisiana—including Baton Rouge, Chalmette, Covington, Denham Springs, Gonzales, Hammond, Harvey, Houma, Kenner, Luling, Mandeville, Metairie, New Orleans, River Ridge, Slidell, Walker and Zachary.