Spirit of Generosity | PECO/Excelon
This story originally appeared in our winter edition of News from HOME.
When it was created eight years ago, the mission of the PECO/Exelon Veterans Employment and Training Program was to use the restorative power of work, education, and community to help formerly homeless veterans in recovery remake their lives and achieve self-sufficiency. And it has done just that.
As two of the Greater Philadelphia region’s most socially-engaged companies, PECO and its parent company, Exelon, have well-earned reputations for commitment to supporting military veterans, whether they be company employees or represented in the broader community. The Project HOME PECO/Exelon Veterans Training and Employment Program builds on that commitment: providing job skills training, access to paid work experiences, and paid internships to formerly homeless veterans since 2010. The program targeted formerly homeless veterans living in Project HOME supportive housing residences, as well as Project HOME resident alumni.
To ensure that each veteran receives the tools necessary to succeed, participants of the program received on-site support, career guidance, and job search assistance for the duration of their internship. The Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs provided program participants with classes on professional development and certification, computer proficiency, networking opportunities, workplace etiquette, and job search assistance. Veterans met one-on-one with a member of Project HOME’s Employment Services team each week to discuss their progress and challenges.
Overall, the PECO/Exelon Veterans Employment and Training Program was highly successful; the program graduated 63 military veterans from every branch of service. We are so grateful for the leadership and support of Michael Innocenzo, President and CEO, PECO; Craig Adams, retired President and CEO, PECO; Romona Riscoe Benson, Manager of Corporate Relations, PECO; Denis P. O’Brien, Advisor to the CEO, Exelon Corporation; and the encouragement from other leadership, their support staff as well as veteran staff across PECO that attended graduation ceremonies in solidarity.
Moving forward, Project HOME is pivoting the program’s winning strategies to serve an emerging community of need: young adults.
Research shows that emancipated young adults face a number of challenges during the transition to adulthood, and unemployment and housing stability may be among the greatest of these. The January 2018 Point-In-Time Count showed that of the 1,083 homeless, unsheltered individuals counted, seven percent were young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. Each year, approximately 1,000 young adults age out of foster care in Pennsylvania – many left struggling without the life skills, education, or employment history to obtain competitive employment and housing. This group would greatly benefit from guidance in developing an individualized plan to gain education, earn valuable job experience and break the cycle of poverty with competitive employment.
Recognizing that successful employment is a critical component of overcoming homelessness, Project HOME currently requires all young adult residents to work full-time or, if they are enrolled in school, at least part-time. This program adds a supported apprenticeship to employment to improve employment outcomes and advance career development. The supported apprenticeship is a six-month experience during which the young adult participant receives intensive supports to retain competitive employment, or if necessary, to rapidly connect to new employment. Simultaneously working one-on-one with an employment professional while participating in a trauma informed support group, each participant will develop an individualized career goal plan and acquire new skills to make measurable progress toward those goals. The experience is designed for Young Adults to both develop new skills and discover hidden talents for a life of independence, productivity, and contribution to family and community.
With the support of partners PECO and the Exelon Foundation, dozens of formerly homeless veterans have achieved recovery and self-sufficiency. Every day, these veterans call on their skills and experience, putting them to use to build an amazing future. We are excited to bear witness to what the future will hold for graduates of the new Young Adult Employment and Training Program.