What comes to your mind when we talk about charitable work? To help the needy, to support the growth of families who are unable to cater to finances themselves, and obviously, to uplift the community on the whole.
One community that needs proper attention is that of individuals released from prisons. People with criminal records have trouble finding good jobs. If they can not earn and sustain a stable lifestyle, there are solid chances that they will be rearrested for misconduct of one type or another. Two-thirds of people who are released from prison annually are rearrested within three years.
Keeping this in view, Goodwill charity and donation organization is now actively helping people with criminal records find jobs and lead a more stable life.
What Is Goodwill Doing On the Technological Front?
Goodwill has partnered with Accenture to offer a gateway to a good job. It has launched a virtual reality to create a realistic experience that lets participants build confidence, practice interview skills, and train themselves in a low-risk environment so they can perform better when finally appearing in front of a hiring board.
Accenture has worked with Goodwill for developing initiatives and relevant programs, training human resources, and obtain technology to execute this plan. Accenture took assistance from writer and filmmaker, Messiah Rhodes, to create a VR script that can offer over 1 million unique experiences depending on the answers people give during the interview.
Will It Make a Difference?
The partnership aims to address societal challenges that people who are just out of prison face. Surprisingly, more than 20 Goodwill organizations around the US have already implemented this initiative. Furthermore, Goodwill is operating in other regions too like Melbourne or Sydney in Australia so it can be hoped that we will soon see similar initiatives in other countries as well.
The project has been termed as OVERCOME in the US and it has successfully scored positive feedback from 97% of the participants. Steven C. Preston, the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International has shared that, “Project Overcome helps individuals through a unique experience so they can feel empowered to tell their narratives about their backgrounds to prospective employers. People impacted by the justice system often experience inequities throughout their lives, couples with limited work experience and little to no financial resources, stable housing, or support system. This program offers the possibility for the trajectory of their lives to change and allows them to re-establish themselves as contributing members to their communities.”
The usability of this technology can be judged by the fact that more than 650,000 individuals are released from US prisons every year. More than half of these are then found to be involved in other illegal activities within three years following the release. This typically happens because a former inmate often lacks employment opportunities and can not meet financial needs for himself and, in some cases, the dependent families.
Since they have been out of touch and lack the confidence to appear for formal interviews, Goodwill, in partnership with Accenture, plans to provide a nine-month-in-kind engagement consisting of interviews and surveys of potential employment professionals to develop their skills.
Regarding this, Jimmy Etheredge, CEO of North America, Accenture has shared, “COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on individuals who were already at the risk of being left behind, including those who have criminal backgrounds. It is in our collective interest to lift each other as we recover from the health, economic, and social crises of the century. When we unleash the combined power of technology and human ingenuity, we can remove barriers and create pathways to opportunity.”
Furthermore, Dan Guenther, extended reality lead at Accenture explains, “Project OVERCOME demonstrates how VR technologies can be applied to practical, real-world challenges – in this case, by simulating the high-stress job interview situation and allowing users to roleplay in a risk-free environment. The instant, interactive feedback provided allows users to refine or rework their approaches, building the muscle memory and confidence required to successfully interview in person and enter the workforce.”
Goodwill is currently operating in more than 14 countries. It is actively helping people earn employment, find a safe shelter, and learn skills for better job placement in addition to other ongoing community-based programs. Most of the services are funded by selling clothes that people like you and me decide to donate to charities. It also accepts household donations, toys, appliances, small furniture, etc. You can visit any of the 3,300 physical stores in the US to complete your donation or access the organization online.