The Secure Jobs Initiative

Way Finders’ Secure Jobs Initiative (SJI) is a supportive employment program for homeless families and households receiving Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), or Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Since it began in 2013, SJI has helped more than 900 people achieve stable employment—and maintain stable housing. With these foundational elements in place, families are poised to grow in resilience and build greater economic mobility.   

How does SJI work? Through one-on-one career counseling. Through expert mentorship from professionals who understand the barriers to employment that people may face—and have experience in helping people overcome them. Through encouragement and insight at each step of the job search journey, from writing a resume and cover letter to conducting a savvy job search and preparing for an interview.   

SJI participants are also encouraged to join the Work Readiness Certificate program. 

Eligibility 

To be eligible for the Secure Jobs Initiative, you must live in Hampden or Hampshire county and be receiving assistance from one of these programs: 

  • Emergency Assistance (EA) 
  • HomeBASE  
  • Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) 
  • Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) 

Access to supportive services for childcare and more 

“How can I work if I don’t have childcare?” Way Finders’ employment specialists know that childcare (including day care and after-school care) is one of the most challenging barriers that people face to employment. And we know many ways to help people access their benefits and find arrangements that meet their needs. Our employment specialists have strong connections with local provider agencies and experience in navigating everything from waiting lists to vouchers.  

We can also help people connect with services that support: 

  • Mental health  
  • Food access 

Youth Support 

Our Young Adult services are designed to guide young adults, ages 16-25, along the pathway to education, training, personal development and ultimately, a rewarding career!

We understand that young adults need a solid foundation of academic and job readiness skills in order to survive and compete in today’s economy. It is for this reason that we have a dedicated Employment Specialist dedicated to working specifically with young adults.

Employment-related financial assistance 

We understand that barriers to employment can come in many forms—and often come at a cost. SJI participants may receive financial assistance to put toward career and employment related expenses that will help them reach their goals. For example, people may receive help to pay for:

  • Transportation (car repairs, uber, taxis, bus passes) 
  • Language barriers (ESL classes) 
  • Education (GED/HiSET and other Certifications) 
  • Occupational skills and training 
  • State licensing exams 
  • Clothing (for interviews or uniforms for work) 

Retention support 

You’ve found a job, great! For up to 24 months after a participant begins to work, SJI provides tailored job retention support. Through ongoing case management, people can receive help to grow or tweak their career plans or troubleshoot any barriers to their employment and their family’s stability.   

How to apply 

Speak with your Housing Case Manager and request a referral to be sent to employmentsupport@wayfinders.org.  

If you are having challenges obtaining a referral, unsure if you’re eligible, or are not sure who your case manager is, contact employmentsupport@wayfinders.org

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