Durham Magazine Dec/Jan 2021

Page 82



HOW LARGE IS YOUR WORKFORCE? We have six full-time staff, four contract workers and two volunteer staff. HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU SERVE ON AN ANNUAL BASIS? Pre COVID, we were serving around 300 people. Now, it is closer to 175. Due to COVID, we are not able to work in local prisons/jails. In 2017-2018, we

ince 2015 StepUp Durham has been helping adults build stable

were able to serve 111 currently incarcerated people in just our transition

lives for themselves and their children through the acquisition of

re-entry program.

life skills and employment. The small staff has made a big impact

in our community, and an even bigger impact for generations to come.


Executive Director, Syretta Hill shared in a Q&A how they’ve been able to

During our 28-hour employment training, which takes place approximately

achieve success for participants.

every three weeks, participants are reminded about how to “show up” for work, from communication skills to how to deal with conflict in the


workplace. Approximately 56% of those we serve are system-impacted.

StepUp Durham provides employment training, placement and retention

During the employment training, they are reminded that we are not the

services. Our mission is adults and children transforming their lives

sum of our mistakes and how much they will bring to an employer. We work

through employment and life skills training. StepUp Durham partners

with individuals so they have their own individual resume and we recruit

with adults seeking to transform their lives through employment and life

employers who are willing to hire those we graduate from our program. In

skills training. Understanding that employment is the first step to stability,

Step2, the focus is personal development, financial education and career

StepUp Durham offers a 28-hour workshop that teaches the skills needed

pathways. These four 8-week modules take place weekly on Tuesday

to find and sustain employment, as well as personalized employment

evenings and is open to any individual who is working at least 25 hours per

counseling, job referrals, and post-employment support. StepUp’s programs

week. Individuals do not have to go through our employment training to be

are designed specifically for individuals experiencing challenges to finding

eligible to participate in this program. Each week, the individual brings in

employment, such as a criminal background or gaps in employment history.

$10. If the individual is unbanked, we help them set up an account with one

In 2017, StepUp Durham launched the next phase of its work. Step2 is a

of our banking partners, the Latino Credit Union. As individuals in Step2 hit

transformative curriculum that addresses personal development, financial

milestones, we provide financial incentives. It is also through Step2 that

education and career pathways. In 2018, we implemented our transition

individuals have access to material resources like affordable transportation,

re-entry program, where we partner with prisons and jails to provide job

restorative housing and dollars for continuing education.

training to currently incarcerated individuals. And in 2019, we piloted Build, a bridge between graduation from our training to permanent employment. In our fifth year, StepUp Durham is working to build a workforce development






continuum—from providing skills and hope to citizens before they return

StepUp Durham has been engaged in the community since before I started

to their communities to supporting individuals with securing and retaining

as the Executive Director in 2015. In 2013, 12 Durham community leaders


were convened to begin building the foundation that would become StepUp