Project RIO was founded by the Texas Workforce Commission in partnership with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Windham School District and the Texas Youth Commission to provide pre and post release assistance to people with felony convictions.
Reintegrating freshly released ex-felons into society is often difficult due to the challenges they face. According to some, finding employment may just be one of the biggest factors to help ex-felons go back to the society.
However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Problems arise as early as the ex-felon’s released. Ex-felons find it difficult to get hired by employers. They are often discriminated due to the general mistrust directed towards any person with a criminal record.
Aside from the general mistrust ex-felons often encounter when seeking employment, there are other factors that make it difficult for them to get hired. Many employers refuse to hire ex-felons because of the lack of job experience resulting from the long years of incarceration. Some ex-felons didn’t finish education in the first place making them less desirable for the positions. Add up the competition with other job seekers you have better qualifications and untarnished records; ex-felons just do not stand a chance to get good, decent and profitable jobs.
Though the government has done its part to give assistance and to protect ex-felons from unfair discrimination; these efforts are often not enough. That is when nonprofit agencies come in. Project RIO is one of these nonprofit agencies; it helps ex-felons go back to the society. One of the methods that Project RIO employs in order to help ex-felons is the Individual Employment Plan or IEP. Individual Employment Plan helps to identify the suitable career path for an ex-felon.
Project RIO uses create assessment and evaluation tool to identify the best career options for the ex-felon. It takes into consideration the current labor market trend, the employers’ needs and the types of occupations available to the locality where the ex-felons plan to reside.
In jail participants of Project RIO can get counseling about their educational, vocational and career options once they leave the prison. Aside from counseling, Project RIO also creates training and workshops for specific skills. Project RIO provides assessments to evaluate what career path is the best option to a person. Taking in consideration the ex-felon’s personal interests, educational background and skills that will qualify them to job positions, Project RIO helps people with felony conviction make informed and productive choices for themselves.
Project RIO also offers help on practical skills like creating resumes, dressing for interviews, handling interviewers and answering interview questions. And since Project RIO is tied up with the government, they can give more than support people with felony conviction; it can provide tax incentives to employer who hires them.
Employers under Project RIO’s tax incentive programs can either make use of two different tax saving methods.
– Work Opportunity Tax Credit provides up to $24,000 in tax credit for every employer who hires an ex-felon on the first year of the ex-felon’s employment. The credit is helpful in reducing the federal tax liability of the employer.
– Project Rio Fidelity Bond is an insurance policy for businesses who hire ex-felons. The Project Rio Fidelity Bond Texas Workforce Commission may bond to as much as$5,000 per ex-felon employed to protect the employer from possible stealing, dishonesty and other possible harm of hiring ex-felons.
Project Rio is a holistic approach in giving employment to ex-felons. Project Rio gives the skills and qualifications to ex-felons who are seeking for jobs while also giving incentive and protections to employers. When it comes to helping people with felony conviction, Project Rio is one of the best.