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The pilot program aims to help people exiting the justice system transition to the workforce.

May 16, 2023 / By Bob Mook, Senior Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Individuals exiting Colorado’s justice system are getting an opportunity to enter the workforce, thanks to a new test program between the Denver International Airport and the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Launched in mid-April, the program is operated through Bayaud Enterprises and is managed by DIA’s Center of Equity and Excellence in Aviation and DIA’s maintenance division.

The program accommodates work to up to 10 participants for 12 weeks (about 40 individuals over a year) in rotating work crews.

Participants’ duties include functions outside of the airport’s secure areas such as landscaping, minor road repairs, snow removal and trash clean-up. Work assignments will vary based on DIA’s maintenance operational needs, including seasonal priorities.

CDOC works closely with Bayaud to recruit and identify eligible participants who are on the verge of leaving the justice system or are already in transitional halfway programming. Selected participants must meet CDOC eligible for internal job readiness efforts. Bayaud also coordinates closely with the CDOC to ensure that there is a customized approach for each participant that includes a review of their in-state background check.

“Our pilot program participants will gain job skills and build employment experience while enhancing our airport through their work,” said DIA CEO Phil Washington in a news release. “We aim to be trailblazers in the aviation industry by embedding equity in all that we do, including connecting with our community’s most vulnerable populations with a human-centered, data-driven approach.”

Participants receive compensation at the rate of $23.75 per hour, which reflects the City and County of Denver’s prevailing wage requirements. Workers are compensated daily.

In addition to working on-site, participants will attend employment retention classes to support their transition. Participants also will be provided daily breakfast and lunch, supplementary clothing items, hygiene products and transportation to their worksite.

CDOC Executive Director Andre Stancil said that having job skills and the opportunity to find stable employment reduces the likelihood that participants will end up back in prison.

“That not only changes the future for that individual, but it also helps keep our communities safer,” Stancil said in a news release.

Tammy Bellofatto, executive director of Bayaud Enterprises, says the program offers “a foundation for a fresh start” and a “path toward productivity and purpose.”

According to DIA spokeswoman, Ashley Forest, four participants are currently enrolled in the program. Called DEN New Heights, the program started on April 17 and will expire a year after the start date.

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