FirstNiagara backs WorkPlace’s long-term unemployed effort

The WorkPlace, southwestern Connecticut’s regional workforce development agency based in Bridgeport, has received a $10,000 grant from First Niagara Bank’s charitable foundation to support the organization’s nationally recognized Platform to Employment (P2E) program.
Featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the program is a model that demonstrates that the right job readiness programming, combined with personal and family support services and financial counseling, can return the long-term unemployed to the workforce, according to the WorkPlace. First Niagara’s grant will support the public-private partnership, which gives business owners a risk-free opportunity to evaluate and consider hiring candidates during an eight-week experience program.
“We’re thrilled to have First Niagara’s support for our P2E program, which provides the long-term unemployed with the tools needed to re-enter the workforce, and helps participants find and secure trial job placements with local companies,” said Joseph Carbone, The WorkPlace president and CEO, in prepared comments. “With support from community partners like First Niagara, we’re confident that the P2E model will be successful in putting the long-term unemployed back to work in cities across the country.”
Carbone and Paul McCraven, First Niagara’s senior vice president of community development, on Jan. 31 attended a summit at the White House where President Obama outlined new efforts to assist the long-term unemployed. During his remarks, available on the C-SPAN web site, the president recognized non-profit organizations, like The WorkPlace, that have a measurable impact on unemployed job seekers.
The P2E program offers individuals a five-week preparatory program, including skills assessment, career readiness workshops, employee assistance programs and job coaching. Upon program completion, The WorkPlace helps participants find open positions at local companies, and funds a trial-placement where employers can assess the candidate’s performance. The expectation is that if the company is satisfied, a full-time job will ensue.
The bank’s support for The WorkPlace was a natural fit, according to McCraven, given its presence in the state and support for community programming in the regions it serves.
“After attending the White House summit and hearing first-hand accounts of the people that have benefitted from these programs, I have an even greater appreciation for The WorkPlace and its mission,” McCraven said.