Restoration Academy’s largest class says farewell to Mayor Coleman

2015 class of Restoration Academy along with program sponsors and Columbus city officials

This year’s Restoration Academy graduation marked new beginnings for the program’s participants, and farewell to the program’s most adamant supporter. The largest class of Restoration Academy graduates, 44 in total, crossed the stage at the King Arts Complex on Friday, September 25. Approaching his final term in office, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman fondly reminisced on the program he launched in 2012, after hearing a suggestion from an ex-offender looking for work during the Heritage Concert Series held at Mayme Moore Park.

“This may be one of the smallest programs we have but it’s the most important and most impactful,” Coleman said during the graduation.

Joining Coleman in congratulating the graduates were Columbus City Councilmembers Andrew Ginther, Priscilla Tyson, Eileen Paley and Shannon Hardin. Mike Spriggs, water maintenance coordinator of the City of Columbus, and Clarence Simmons, founder and chief executive of SIMCO Construction, also spoke to the graduates about their needed contributions to the workforce in spite of their past mistakes.

So far, 42 of the 44 Restoration Academy participants have permanent positions at several public and private companies including: the City of Columbus; COWIC; Alvis House; IMPACT Community Action; Ridge Corporation; Adecco/Honda; Zulily; LBrands; SIMCO Construction; Columbus Urban League; Lithko Restoration; Paul Davis Restoration; Live, Laugh, and Learn Day Care; Family & Friends Health Care; Diversity Search Group; Express Scripts; Local Union 423; K & M Kleening Services; Sports Clips; COTA; and Construction Elite.

Restoration Academy is a six month program that provides paid work experience to people with criminal backgrounds that cause barriers to employment. The ultimate goal is to help graduates secure permanent employment within the city or with a local employer. The program is provided through the City of Columbus and in partnership with several community-based organizations and employers. COWIC, along with Franklin County, Columbus State Community College, Columbus Urban league, IMPACT Community Action, Alvis House, Henkels & McCoy and PrimaryOne Health also part with the city to provide internships and services for the program.

Participants go through work readiness training, receive wrap around services, and have the option of completing specialized training programs which will result in industry recognized certifications that can be used to heighten qualifications and hiring prospects. Nearly 100 men and women have completed the program since 2012.

Also read: Mayor Coleman highlights Restoration Academy in final State of the City address