Now more than ever, we must invest in women and their potential as agents of social and economic change. The Peer Association INC (TPA), a 501c3 as defined by the IRS, are currently engaged and targeting innovative approaches to meet the needs for persons with criminal records and entrepreneurship.
All donations will be used to develop a new apprenticeship program and curriculum in the healthcare industry including a national certification as a Peer Specialist titled “Apprenticeship to Entrepreneurship - Breaking Glass Ceilings”. This gender-responsive initiative combines career preparation and business ownership to create a pathway for justice-involved women to enter into the healthcare industry as peer specialists and independent contractors in Wisconsin.
Our primary objective is to directly address these needs based on a model of apprenticeship as well as an entrepreneurial educational program through the promotion of equal access to educational opportunities, resources and services – TPA anticipates women will be empowered to participate fully in the development and implementation of an apprenticeship program specific to reentry and recovery peer support as a potential career path and opportunity to become an independent Entrepreneurs themselves, if they so choose.
Trends in the healthcare industry demonstrate the demand for persons with lived experience of incarceration, substance use disorder, mental health issues, or a combination thereof, to be part of intervention and/or treatment solutions for this vulnerable population, especially women, who are often underemployed, low-skilled, and without livable wages. According to studies produced by Mental Health America and Kaiser Permanente, the use of Peer specialists as part of the healthcare team improve recovery options for persons being served, because the value of the lived experience cannot be underscored.
The requirements for becoming a peer worker, and owning an operating a business vary among states, making the need for standardization paramount, which is why TPA is anchoring this workforce initiative as the first of its kind national apprenticeship to entrepreneurship program. Paid on the job training gives value to women with lived experiences while preparing them to have the option of becoming entrepreneurs promoting a solution to the barrier of having a criminal record. A national curriculum and approach is vital for apprenticeship approval. Piloting a non-traditional Apprenticeship to Entrepreneurship program we would provide individuals the opportunity to recover from mental illness and or substance abuse while reentering. It is most important to recognize this opportunity would not otherwise be available without the capital TPA is privy to and is willing to approach with an open-mindedness to engage investors to build a recovery, reentry focused behavioral workforce and apprenticeship approach. Our approach will create purpose and community to those who wouldn’t typically have the opportunities to learn skills historically handed down generation to generation and/or obtained through traditional educational opportunities.
We teach self-sustainability, provide long lasting results that create independence, increased self-esteem and pride in one’s ability to care for themselves and families. The United States Federal Glass Ceiling Commission defines the glass ceiling as "the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements." Minority women have been found to have the most difficulty in "breaking the glass ceiling" because they lie at the intersection of two traditionally oppressed groups: women and people of color.
The glass ceiling is continuing to affect women today, but with opportunities focused on creating gender equality, women will be able to break through this “ceiling” and effect change in the work world. While companies are shifting toward greater gender diversity in the workplace, it is still necessary to identify and rectify why women are not gaining leadership positions, even though equal pay for equal work exists. Evidence shows that organizations who actively encourage their management to promote diversity in the workplace brings about measurably positive results. Active management in diversity has led to pay equity, more flexible schedules, and equal access to advancement opportunities.
Thinking innovatively in the workplace and installing unconventional programs has led to more women employed in better paying, more responsible positions.
It’s clear that we must invest in the ingenuity and strength of women. We already know what some of the solutions are (The Women’s Foundation of California 2011)
1. Give women equal pay for equal work—an act that would cut poverty in half. Women still make only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men—and for women of color, the numbers are even worse.
2. Educate and train women to move into quality jobs created by the stimulus package, rebuilding our infrastructure and greening the economy.
3. Invest in education and health care now to ensure that we have the human capital to sustain a healthy economy.
4. Engage women directly in the policymaking process as advocates and elected officials.
These are a few measures that will help not just women and families—especially low-wage workers and low-income families—but all communities.
TPA intends to approach our mission drive and build a Workforce based on the needs of the population, the need for educated workers based on the growing retirement population, increased work in the healthcare arena and build a stable workforce, while reducing recidivism and re-incarceration.