As part of an ongoing effort to address Kentucky’s workforce challenges by hiring individuals in need of a second chance, the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Workforce Recovery Program has announced the completion of its inaugural “Fair Chance Academy,” with 20 business leaders from companies of all industries and sizes graduating from the program in June.
The business leaders that participated in the Fair Chance Academy are certified as “Fair Chance Employers” by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy and the Kentucky Chamber Foundation. This certification serves as a clear commitment to finding, hiring, and retaining fair chance talent.
The program took place over the course of three full-day training sessions, held on May 11, May 25, and June 8 at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce office in Frankfort. During each session, employers gained valuable training, information, and resources to successfully foster transformational employment opportunities for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder who are ready to re-enter the workforce. Participating businesses will now spend the next three months implementing what they have learned, with the support of the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Workforce Recovery Program. This partnership will continue, as needed, to assist their business in the long-term goal of being a fair chance employer and providing more opportunities and career growth for the fair chance population.
“The Kentucky Chamber has long been an advocate for addressing both the state’s low workforce rate and substance use disorder epidemic. With the Fair Chance Academy, we are teaching employers how to recruit, hire and retain individuals with histories of substance use and give them a fair chance to rebuild their lives. That starts with meaningful employment,” said Beth Davisson, Senior Vice President of the Kentucky Chamber Foundation. “We’re excited to see how this initiative allows employers to tap into a new workforce of people who are ready and willing to work.”
“The Fair Chance Academy is an opportunity for businesses to learn about their role in successful recovery and lowering recidivism chances for people looking to reenter the workforce,” said Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP). “I have appreciated the time spent amongst 20 business leaders who want to learn best practices that will set their fair chance employees up for long-term success.”
The inaugural cohort included 20 participants from across the state representing a variety of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture.
“Our fellow Kentuckians have been hit hard by substance use disorder, but thanks to the Fair Chance Academy, we now have a clear roadmap to hiring individuals in recovery through providing jobs and opportunities for success,” said Deborah Ramirez, Mubea, Inc. “As part of Kentucky’s business community, I’m confident this programming will allow us to be a part of the solution to creating a healthier, stronger Commonwealth.”
“Employers have an opportunity to support Kentuckians who are in recovery and destigmatize addiction,” said Lisa Beckett, Gray Construction. “Because of the Fair Chance Academy, I feel prepared to take what I’ve learned back to my company and help provide hope, opportunity, and fair chances to those who need it most.”
The Kentucky Chamber Foundation will select another cohort of employers to participate in next year’s Fair Chance Academy. The initiative is part of the Kentucky Transformational Employment program, which launched in 2021 to provide a pathway for employers to help more Kentuckians reach long-term recovery from substance use disorders.
The Fair Chance Academy was established through funding from Isaiah House, The Just Trust, Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE), and the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP).
To learn more about the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s efforts and initiatives to address the substance use disorder crisis, visit kychamber.com/workforcerecovery.