Welcome to our first client spotlight! At Nonprofit Megaphone, we are all honored and humbled to work for such amazing organizations. We want to take a moment in each newsletter to share about the mission and work of one of our clients. This month, we would like to introduce you to Pioneer Human Services.

Since 1963, Pioneer Human Services has been providing individuals with criminal histories the opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives. Pioneer started as one halfway house, and has expanded to over 50 treatment, counseling, housing, and job training programs across Washington State. Over 10,000 individuals are served each year.

For individuals like Marquis, the programs offered by Pioneer Human Services are life changing. After getting involved with gangs and drugs as a young adult, Marquis was incarcerated. At that point, he realized that he needed to change his path. Once he was released from prison, he discovered that his felony conviction was a huge barrier standing in the way of becoming employed. The job rejections kept piling up.

Marquis’ probation officer recommended that he try to get assistance at Pioneer Human Services. Case Managers enrolled him in the Roadmap to Success program to prepare him for the job search and interview process. He was then accepted into Pioneer’s Manufacturing Academy, which taught him the basics of manufacturing and safety, and better positioned him for an entry level position. Unfortunately, there weren’t any positions open at Pioneer Industries (the aerospace manufacturing enterprise owned by Pioneer) once he graduated, and again he started facing rejections from prospective employers because of his record. Because he couldn’t find work, he started heading in the wrong direction again, so his probation officer recommended counseling. Marquis got engaged in Pioneer’s Counseling program and was encouraged to keep in contact with Pioneer’s Case Managers and Instructors. One day while he was still having a hard time, his luck changed. There was an opening on the Pioneer Industries manufacturing floor. He now works full-time in aerospace manufacturing and attends an apprenticeship program one night a week. Marquis shared, “In the apprenticeship I’m learning a new trade and using the skills on the job. It has been an adjustment getting used to a paycheck, but I remind myself this is the direction I wantto go. Maybe I can’t buy my daughters fancy stuff anymore, but I can look them in the eye and be a good role model…that’s priceless to me.”

Pioneer is a social enterprise, and has a unique business model. Unlike most nonprofits, Pioneer operates a diverse line of businesses that provide on-the-job training and work experience for the people they serve, while generating revenue that helps fund their social mission. Many students from their training programs become employed in Pioneer’s manufacturing, food service or construction enterprises to give them experience or help them to build their career. In 2016, 64 percent of Pioneer’s enterprise workforce had a criminal history and/or was in recovery. Pioneer is working daily to lower the statistic that over 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed one year after release due to the barriers they face. At Pioneer, it is all about providing a chance for change. Learn more at www.PioneerHumanServices.org!