MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio(WDTN) – Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley had such success with the LifeLaunch program that they’re now starting The Goodwill® Young Adult LifeLaunch 2.0 Reentry Program. They’re able to use funds acquired by the Department of Labor. A federal grant for $4.5 million covers about 88 percent of operating costs.

This program is for young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who live in Dayton and have a previous involvement with adult or juvenile justice or are at risk for offending due to lacking a high school diploma or GED.

“We’re able to provide employment opportunities, job development [and] resume development. We [make] sure they have health care set up, and deal with any mental health concerns. [We] just really [meet] them where they are and [walk] them through all the challenges that comes with some of the barriers that they’re facing,” explained Jenny Bonifas, the senior director of vocational services with Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley.

The program works directly with the Dayton Prosecutors Office to find potential program participants that can benefit the most from LifeLaunch 2.0.

“We’re able to say ‘Hey our client has been accepted to the LifeLaunch program, [and] these are the services they provide …let’s give this young person a chance to turn their life around and look for an alternative to incarceration,'” said Jill Bucaro, a social worker with the Montgomery County Public Defenders’ Office.

Bonifas says their last iteration of the LifeLaunch program saw a recidivism rate of less than 5 percent. Those working with the program see lives turn and go in a completely new direction

“We had a young man come to us, he was living in a homeless shelter…and didn’t have a GED,” shared Bonifas. “[Now] he’s enrolled in college and he got a 4.0 his first semester. He has an internship with our IT department and is doing a phenomenal job.

For more information on the LifeLaunch program, click here.