Imagine ex-cons doffed in beekeeping garb. Sweet Beginnings is a social enterprise that truly encompasses the triple bottom line, employing formerly incarcerated men and women to run all aspects of the business, including carefully cultivating bees to create high end honey.
Owner Brenda Palms Barber from the Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale (where 1 in 4 is unemployed and 6 in 10 have had run ins with the law), was frustrated watching the revolving door of men being incarcerated, released, and incarcerated again due to the lack of available jobs in her community. She wanted to make change in her own backyard and worked with other community activists to create the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN). Each year, the admits about 200 people who have had run ins with the law into their jobs training program, U-Turn Permitted. They offer traditional job skills training like resume writing and interviewing skills, along with specialized classes in anger management, and cultural adjustment coaching.Click to continue reading »