Benchmarks of Success Issue 25, April 2021

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Monthly Newsletter  -  Issue 25, April 2021

The April Benchmarks of Success newsletter is taking a closer look at Maryland’s Correctional Education (CE) program and highlighting some of the services Maryland’s workforce system partners offer returning citizens. When the pandemic struck in March of 2020, delivery of CE services were radically altered. Teachers who previously worked with inmates in classrooms shifted to preparing packets of learning materials students worked through and returned for evaluation. Months of planning for a safe return to in-person services are finally moving forward as access to vaccines expands. CE schools operating in the Eastern and Western Region correctional facilities reopened in early April of 2021. Pending continued success in controlling the spread of the virus, CE program leaders anticipate bringing in-person services back online in correctional facilities around the state.  

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Helping Jobseekers with Criminal Backgrounds Build a Better Future

Workforce system customers/clients/consumers with criminal backgrounds face long-term consequences to their employability and lifetime earnings that extend far beyond whatever sentence they serve. An analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative shows that formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27% — higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression. Maryland’s Correctional Education (CE) program provides a diverse selection of educational and occupational training offerings to help Maryland’s returning citizens avoid becoming a part of those bleak statistics.

Operated within the Maryland Department of Labor’s (Labor) Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning (DWDAL), CE helps individuals who are incarcerated access career services, essential skills training, preparation for a high school diploma, occupational training, and transition support. Each year, the CE program reaches 7,000 inmates with educational and occupational training services offered at each Division of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) state institution, the Patuxent Institution, and all pre-release units.

Every day in Maryland correctional facilities, more than 500 students are in attendance at one of the 25 adult occupational training programs running in 10 institutions with the support of 43 instructors. Courses are typically 400 to 600 hours in length and include the opportunity for students to earn national industry-recognized credentials. The primary goal of training is to prepare students to meet the needs of the public and private sectors so that they can be employed upon release.

To learn more about the numerous CE programs and services, take a look at the most recently published Correctional Education Council’s Annual Report.


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COVID-19 Corner

Access Points for COVID-19 Vaccinations

April of 2021 brought with it a momentous sign of light at the end of the COVID tunnel we have all endured for the past year: Governor Hogan announced on April 6, 2021 that all Marylanders 16 and older would be eligible to schedule appointments and get vaccinated through all providers beginning Monday, April 12.  

The fastest and most efficient way to get vaccinated may be by pre-registering for an appointment at one of the 12 mass vaccination sites now set up statewide. To pre-register, Maryland residents should visit Those without Internet access can call Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829). Advocates are available seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

In addition to the mass vaccination sites, nearly 500 pharmacies, numerous local health departments, and other hospitals and clinic locations are distributing the vaccine throughout the state. To find the site nearest you, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Locator.

Now get out there and GET VACCINATED!

Quick Resources

Benchmarks of Success Resource Page

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Resource Page

Maryland’s State Workforce Plan


Upcoming 2021 Newsletters

5/25, 6/22, 7/20, 8/24, 9/21, 10/26, 11/23



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Chris Grows in a Career and Finds Satisfaction in Life


DWDAL’s CE is helping inmates in Maryland correctional facilities earn secondary educational credentials and gain academic and occupational skills that will help them make a successful transition back into society when released. CE instructors, principals, and administrative staff work together to provide educational opportunities to over 5,000 inmates in every DPSCS state institution, the Patuxent Institution, and all pre-release units. The services and support CE provides to inmate students is helping to reduce recidivism and improve the employment outlook for returning citizens.

Chris offers a wonderful example of CE’s transformational impact on long-term outcomes for individuals who have become involved with the justice system.

Chris is a father and a grandfather who holds down a full-time job as a technician at Heritage MileOne in Bel Air, but his life was not always this stable. The 39-year-old spent 18 years of his life in prison. During his last incarceration of six years, Chris discovered an interest in automotive repair at the Occupational Skills Training Center. His interest and skills continued to grow when he moved on to the EARN Maryland grantee Vehicles for Change (VFC) program to earn his Automotive Service Excellence Certification, a valuable industry-recognized credential.

Although Chris has succeeded in landing a good job and is building a new life, he still dedicates his day off on Mondays to the VFC program. “This is home. This is always going to be home…these are my guys!” he says emphatically. “People helped me,” Chris remarked, recalling other program graduates who returned to offer students encouragement, support, and technical guidance.

Now Chris says, “I like my life and this is the easiest it’s ever been.” As a kid, he remembers seeing his father come home from work and sitting down in front of the television and then going to sleep when he was ready. Now he does the same thing and he can connect to his father’s hard work ethic. He is enjoying having the respect of his family as he proves that he, too, is a good provider.

Read more about Chris’ story…

Workforce Partners

Maryland Department of Labor                                                                  Maryland Department of Human Services

Maryland State Department of Education                                                Governor's Workforce Development Board

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development                            Maryland Workforce Association

Did You Know...?

Maryland's Latest Workforce Development Updates

  • Grant-funded Occupational Training Initiatives for Women - In addition to other ongoing educational

    and occupational training activities in place for incarcerated individuals and returning citizens, there are also innovative grant-funded programs like those described below.

    Certified Peer Recovery Specialists

    In 2019, the Maryland Department of Labor received funding from the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC) to pilot a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist training at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW). Labor received additional funds from the OOCC in August 2020 to continue to support participants working towards certification. The additional funds will be used to support a curriculum review, continuing education credits, and certification costs.

    Pre-apprenticeships in Hospitality

    Labor received $650,000 from the United States Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau in 2018. Part of the funding is being used for a Pre-Apprenticeship Hospitality Pilot at MCIW. Labor, the DPSCS, Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association worked closely to develop the Pre-Apprenticeship Hospitality Pilot. Twelve women enrolled in the first cohort at MCIW. Despite an interruption in the program caused by COVID-related facility shutdowns, the instructor is preparing to begin classroom instruction again with strict safety protocols in place. Two additional cohorts are planned before the grant ends in September 2021. Due to the success of the program, Labor is actively exploring additional funding sources to continue this program.

    Gaining Skills for a Successful Transition

    The Women’s Bureau award is also supporting a program offered through PIVOT, a community reentry and workforce development program. Over the course of the grant period, PIVOT plans to enroll a total of forty-five women in an eight-week program, during which they will be exposed to job readiness, group therapy, and intensive case management. Following the eight week program, women will be placed into employment or referred, as appropriate, to occupational training opportunities.

  • Maryland Reentry Navigators -

    To help returning citizen job seekers address complex employment barriers, Re-entry Navigators are stationed within American Job Centers (AJCs) across Maryland. Reentry Navigators work with pre-release individuals in State correctional facilities to help them connect with employment and training opportunities, and continue to provide support during the post-release transition process. In addition to the services Re-entry Navigators provide to returning citizens, they also continually network with the business community to identify employers interested in hiring individuals with a criminal background.

    Five Re-entry Navigators serve regional territories in Maryland:

    Ellen Bredt, Anne Arundel County                              

    Linthicum American Job Center  


    James Grossman, Western Maryland

    Washington County American Job Center  

    301-393-8222 | 410-630-0588 (cell)

    Jarah Hall, Lower Eastern Shore

    Lower Shore American Job Center  

    410-341-8533, ext. 1216

    Marshel Pollock-Lawrence, Baltimore City

    Eastside One-Stop Career Center  


    Sandy Graham, Prince George’s County

    Prince George’s American Job Center


    Here is a great brochure designed to explain the variety of services that are available for job seeker customers with justice system involvement. The brochure provides information on Maryland’s Re-entry Navigators, American Job Centers, Registered Apprenticeship and the Maryland Workforce Exchange.

  • Connecting Employers with Returning Citizen Jobseekers -

    If you are a business-facing workforce services provider, you might be surprised at the positive response you get from employers asked to consider a candidate with a criminal background. According to a study published in 2018 by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute, more than 80% of managers and two-thirds of human resource professionals feel that workers with criminal records bring just as much (or greater) value to an organization as workers without records.

    Here is a comprehensive compilation of programs and incentives available to business customers who are willing to hire returning citizens.

  • Quick Primer on Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) - WIOA Title II is the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act program. Here are a few fast facts about the Title II program and the services it supports:                                                                                                                                      
    • Under WIOA Title II, federal funds go to state administrators and local service providers to offer adult education and skills development programs.
    • The target audiences for Title II services include American workers 16 or older who have barriers to employment, including individuals with low-incomes, individuals who are immigrants and/or have limited English language skills, and individuals who are incarcerated.
    • In Maryland, the Title II program is administered through two offices within DWDAL: 1) the Office of Adult Education and Literacy Services (AELS) and 2) Correctional Education (CE).
    • AELS selects local providers of adult education instructional services via a statewide competition conducted every five years. Instructional services include Adult Basic and Secondary Education, English Language Acquisition/Integrated English Literacy and Civics, Family Literacy, and High School Diploma preparation. Maryland’s current providers include a wide-range of community colleges, local public school systems, community-based organizations, and public libraries. Here is an online Directory of Maryland Adult Education Programs and Classes.
    • CE provides academic and vocational educational programs in Maryland’s correctional institutions with the oversight of the Correctional Education Council and in partnership with DPSCS.

    For more information on WIOA Title II goals, target audiences and services, check out this great Fact Sheet.

  • Maryland Adult Educators Present at Recent National Conference - Multiple state and local workforce system leaders from Maryland delivered presentations at the annual Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) conference, held March 18 – 24, 2021. COABE is an organization dedicated to providing leadership, communication, professional development, and advocacy for adult education and literacy practitioners to advance quality services for all adult learners.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Maryland presenters included:                                                                                                                           
    • Jesse Schneiderman, Executive Director of the Adult Learning Center at Strong City Baltimore Presentation title: Creating a Culturally Sustaining Classroom for Adult Learners
    • Doug Weimer, Adult Education Program Specialist at the Maryland Department of Labor Presentation title: Adult Ed Instructors - The Underutilized Data Miners
    • Ahu Moser, Director of Academic Programming at Literacy Council of Montgomery County Presentation title 1: English Now! Virtual Blended Learning Circles, Presentation title 2: How an Adult Education Program Has Invested in Professional Development in the era of Pandemic
    • Ellen Beattie, Chief of Adult Instructional Services                                                              Presentation title: The Mind's Design: The Power of Positive Leadership


  • Save the Date! Upcoming Conference for Adult Learners, including Returning Citizens, Coming in May! The Maryland Association for Adult, Community and Continuing Education (MAACCE) is hosting their annual conference virtually from Thursday, May 20, 2021 through Friday, May 21, 2021. MAACCE is a non-profit organization that provides leadership in Maryland for those interested in advancing education as a lifelong process. The MAACCE annual conference convenes adult educators, learners, and support staff from across the state to discuss best practices learned in the field of adult education. The conference will focus on the program elements, trends, and challenges that make Adult Education unique. 

    Workforce professionals interested in helping to further the conversation in adult education and adult services for adult learners and returning citizens, consider registering! 

    MAACCE Deadlines Approaching- Sponsorship, Proposals, Early Bird Registration & More!

  • Accessibility Tip of the Month - Lists - All Maryland workforce system staff should be sure that the digital and printed materials they publish are accessible to individuals with disabilities, but if accessibility issues are not a focus of your job, knowing where to start can feel a little overwhelming. This recurring newsletter section will introduce an accessibility tip each month. Watch the video focused on this month’s tip, print out the job aid, and try applying the suggested accessibility standard in your work!

    Formatting Accessible Lists in Word Documents

    Use the List styles when making Lists. Microsoft offers a variety of list styles, including bulleted, numbered (or lettered), and paragraph. The Lists and Columns module provides more information.

    • Watch YouTube Video: Lists
    • Download Job Aid: Lists

    Information in this article was excerpted from the Office of the Texas Governor’s Creating Accessible Microsoft Office Documents resource page.


Benchmarks of Success Newsletters


Benchmarks of Success Committee Updates

Committee Chairs welcome questions from newsletter readers regarding the work in which their groups are involved! To be connected with a committee's leadership team, feel free to contact the Communications Committee at

All committees are currently meeting virtually.

  • The Executive Steering Committee is composed of the agency leaders of the partner agencies who meet periodically to provide the WIOA Alignment Group with high-level guidance. You can learn more about the Executive Steering Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The WIOA Alignment Group is composed of the department and division-level leaders of partner agencies who meet on a monthly basis to collaboratively address issues, plan joint efforts, make recommendations to the Executive Steering Committee, and manage and guide the activities of the Benchmarks of Success committees. The WIOA Alignment Group meets on the last Monday of each month. The most recent meeting was held on March 29, 2021 and the next meeting is scheduled for April 26, 2021. You can learn more about the WIOA Alignment Group’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Data and Dashboard Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in program-based performance requirements and data collection methodologies and tools. The Committee meets on a quarterly basis to develop a consistent, sustainable system all workforce partners can use to measure, analyze, display, and apply Benchmarks data to continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of services. The Committee’s most recent meeting was held on February 16, 2021. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 18, 2021. You can learn more about the Data and Dashboard Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Communications Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in programs and communications methods and tools. The Committee meets on a monthly basis to foster the integration of Maryland’s workforce system by broadly promoting the activities of the Benchmarks of Success committees and the services and resources of partner agencies and programs. The Committee produces this monthly newsletter as a forum for partners to share information on important developments that impact the system. The Committee held its most recent meeting on April 8, 2021. The group's next scheduled meeting will be held on May 13, 2021. You can learn more about the Communications Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Policy Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in workforce system policy issues. The Committee meets on a monthly basis to research policy issues and produces an annual Policy Recommendations Report. The recommendations included in the Report help to guide system priorities and initiatives. The Committee’s most recent meeting was held on April 15, 2021. The Committee's next meeting is scheduled for May 20, 2021. You can learn more about the Policy Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee works to advance a unified professional development program that helps all partner programs maximize access to and use of skills and credentialing and life management skills, eliminate barriers to employment through the use of supportive services, and strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the workforce system. The Committee held its most recent meeting on April 15, 2021. The next meeting is scheduled for May 19, 2021. You can learn more about the Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee’s ongoing activities here.


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