Our innovative social justice project, Justice Autoworks (JA), provides training and education, as well as a path to business ownership, for people who are justice involved. Our model moves people from the classroom to the workplace to business/co-op ownership.
People who have had contact with the criminal justice system often face long-term collateral consequences. Barriers to employment and education opportunities are just two of those consequences that JA addresses directly. The program trains individuals to enter the world of automotive maintenance and light repair with an eight-week course that gives participants the skills needed to pass the Automotive Service Excellence G1 test. The certification is a signal to employers that job applicants possess the discipline, commitment, and knowledge needed to succeed in the automotive industry.
An additional component of JA includes co-op business management and ownership education. This training is provided by Carolina Common Enterprise, North Carolina’s cooperative development center that is a 501(3) tax-exempt nonprofit. They provide training and technical assistance to community-owned businesses across our state and work for an economy in which all people participate and prosper. Their mission to help develop new and expanding cooperatives through cultivating economic opportunities and connecting communities and resources makes them a perfect partner for Justice Autoworks.
In North Carolina alone, over 1.6 million people have a criminal record. These criminal records are barriers to education, employment, housing, and a host of other resources. When people are denied the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families our entire society suffers. Also in North Carolina, 7 out of 10 formerly incarcerated individuals that do not find employment within 1 year find themselves re-incarcerated. Justice Autoworks is part of the solution to decarceration, recidivism, poverty, and a host of other issues.