The GOSO program is completely voluntary and tailors its services to meet the individual abilities and needs of each participant. Our small, highly qualified staff know every young man by name. Our mandate is to help each participant imagine a life beyond sustainable employment, and to guide him toward a challenging and rewarding career through education and training.
RESULTS THROUGH EDUCATION/
GOSO believes that education and training are the key to the success of our participants. Not only do we encourage them to get their high school diploma or GED, we provide both workshops and individual counseling designed to keep them in school until they complete their education. As a consequence, the retention rate of our college enrolled participants ranges from 80 – 93%, well above the average at the schools they attend. We’ve recently seen participants graduate from Columbia University, Queens College, Ohio University College for the Incarcerated, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College, Queensboro Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and BMCC.
Participants are encouraged to attend our monthly, on site, vocational trainings. These include, OSHA Construction, Scaffolding/Flaggers, Security Training and OSHA General Industry. These certifications allow our participants to build their resumes while gaining necessary skills for various industry jobs.
OUR PARTNER NETWORK/
GOSO’s reentry model was developed around essential partnerships with the NYC Department of Correction, the NYS Department of Correctional Services, the NYC Department of Education, and City University of New York. In addition we have established more than 50 partnerships in the areas of workforce development, social services, health care, education, vocational training, and legal advocacy. With these organizations we have built an unbeatable team capable of meeting the special needs of each of our participants.
Our discharge planning services help young men get out and stay out.
Early on GOSO recognized the importance of providing services, support and early reentry planning to young men while they are still on Rikers Island. GOSO Volunteers meet with young men who have enrolled in classes at East River Academy on Rikers Island to give them an opportunity to begin to explore their future options. Additional recruiters and social workers reach out to men who have been sentenced to complete their terms on Rikers Island.
Men interested in enrolling in the program submit a resume, write an essay describing what they hope to achieve in the program, and sign a contract agreeing to attend school (if applicable), complete assignments, and take responsibility for their actions. They also agree to visit the office immediately after release, complete the required job readiness curriculum, check in once a week for the first three months, and develop and carry through on their reentry plans. In return, GOSO provides life-affirming mentoring, supportive counseling, reentry planning and legal support services through letters of support, phone calls to lawyers and courtroom visits.
Our top priority is to encourage those men without a high school diploma or equivalency diploma to continue their education while on Rikers Island. Equally important is that they take their time on Rikers Island to consider new possibilities for their future and begin to plan for their release.
Support and mentoring for GOSO participants sentenced to upstate facilities.
GOSO has established a unique partnership with the NYS State Department of Correctional Services that enables us to provide continued support and mentoring through correspondence with GOSO participants who are sentenced to upstate facilities. We encourage participants to pursue their high school equivalency diploma, college level correspondence courses or vocational training while incarcerated, and we provide text books and study materials on request.
GOSO steps up contact and reentry planning with participants just prior to their release to better prepare them for their return to the community. Most important, we are able to reassure them that we are aware of the specific problems they will be facing when they return to the community and will be there to help them find solutions from the day they are released.
GOSO is also currently engaged in a pilot program at the Greene County Correctional facility that enables us to visit 40 program participants at that facility twice a year.
Our integrated post-release support program offers help in three key areas– education, employment, and mental health/social services.
GOSO provides post-release transitional services at our facility in East Harlem. Over the years we have built our reentry model around the three most essential needs of our participants: education, employment, and mental health/social service support. Our office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for all services, and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon for scheduled meetings.
Each year over 200 newly-released participants come to our office where they meet one-on-one with Career Counselors and Social Workers, and attend GOSO seminars and workshops. During office hours participants have unlimited access to computers, phones and fax machines that enable them to research and apply for jobs and educational opportunities. An additional 150 young men continue to visit the office after their first year for support services on an as-needed basis while they pursue their education and career goals. Many of the men in our program have told us that over the years GOSO has become like family for them. Participants pass through three stages as they progress through GOSO: Entry-Level Participant, Full Participant, and Alumni.
Entry-Level Participant: For every participant, his first month in the community-based program is a stabilization period, during which his most pressing needs are addressed. During that time, he is expected to complete the GOSO Job Readiness Curriculum, an intensive series of workshops that will prepare him for employment and education. The curriculum includes an Orientation Workshop; Career Exploration I & II, Resume and Cover Letter Writing; Interview Skills I & II; Effective Workplace Habits; Networking and Job Search; and Basic Computer Skills. In addition, Entry-Level Participants are strongly advised to attend three elective workshops that include the Know Your Rights – Youth Represent Workshop. At the conclusion of the workshop series, a participant must also successfully complete a mock interview with GOSO’s President & CEO Mark L. Goldsmith. GOSO Graduates receive a certificate of completion and $100.
Full Participants: Full Participants are eligible for all GOSO services and programs including onsite high school equivalency classes, tutoring, mentoring, paid internships, training/certification opportunities, employment counseling, and referrals to job interviews and education/training programs. Full Participants attend workshops designed to help them thrive in school, the workplace and in their personal lives. Workshops include GROWSO, Brothers Staying Out (BROSO), REDUX, BEATZ, and Creativing Writing.
Alumni: GOSO Alumni are participants who have completed two or more semesters of college or vocational training and/or have worked at the same job for more than one year. We require post-graduates to visit the office or contact their Career Manager at least once a month and encourage them to participate in our graduate level seminars.