Project SERVE (Service, Empowerment, Revitalization, Validation, Employment training) operates out of Living Classrooms’ Broadway Overlook Community Center and addresses the issue of high unemployment and high recidivism among returning citizens in Baltimore City. SERVE provides on-the-job training for 150 unemployed adults per year in marketable skills while they revitalize Baltimore neighborhoods. While still incarcerated, participants begin receiving “wrap around” services, and on the day of their release, they become full-time SERVE members. The program helps members overcome some of the significant barriers to employment and economic mobility faced by this population: lack of marketable skills and/or employment history, employer reluctance, social stigma, and lack of support system.
Members spend 4-6 months in the program where they are provided with training and resources so they may obtain sustainable living-wage employment. Project SERVE uses evidence-based practices for re-entry initiatives in a model that provides pre-release support, rapid attachment to employment, barrier mitigation and career planning, career readiness and paid occupational skills training, career placement, and 12 months post-program follow-up support. The program provides intensive job training in general skills (construction/general carpentry, landscaping, maintenance) while participants revitalize Baltimore neighborhoods. The community revitalization projects provide Project SERVE participants with intensive support in acquiring job skills, nurture a sense of community stewardship, and improve physical conditions in the community. Participants gain on-the-job experience as they learn to operate bobcats, dump trucks, chain saws, and other commercial equipment while working as a team. Project SERVE has proven to be a successful and cost-efficient service for the city and communities of Baltimore. In turn, the program has provided hope, confidence, and essential skills and resources to help members create better lives for themselves and their families.
The major goals of SERVE are to decrease the overall crime rate in Baltimore City by decreasing recidivism rates; positively impact communities with direct services; provide workforce development; increase education and service-learning opportunities; help keep city neighborhoods clean and safe by decreasing environmental hazards and risks to public safety, and; help provide housing renovations for low-income residents. Our staff provides ongoing support to aid individuals in adjusting and returning to the community.
This program has proven to have a lasting impact on the aesthetic nature of City neighborhoods and public areas, and on each individual connected to the program, at a personal level. Support for Project SERVE represents a commitment to improving the streets and buildings of Baltimore, and an investment in the future of each client we serve, helping them start a career and make their own contribution to cleaning up Baltimore. Project SERVE is an important asset to the development and preservation of the City, shown through improvements made to community buildings and tourist areas, and to the creation of a greater workforce by creating opportunities for achievement in a demographic where second chances are not typically possible.
Contact: Imani Yasin
Broadway Overlook Community Center
1501 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
Less than 15 percent average recidivism rate of Project SERVE graduates, compared to Baltimore City’s rate of 52%.
The average number of vacant properties that are cleaned and maintained by Project SERVE each year.
Project SERVE graduates secured long-term employment in 2019 and 2020.
Members received Industry-recognized certifications were earned by Project SERVE participants in 2020.
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