Courtesy of Diane Duthie

This year's Beyond the Box Networking and Job Fair aims to have 50 attending groups. Last year's fair was attended by 35 groups.

March 7, 2019

Second Annual Networking Fair to Connect Employers With Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers

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On March 20, The Beyond the Box Networking and Job Fair will seek to offer formerly incarcerated men and women a place for job searching, bringing together employers and potential employees for education and hiring.

The opportunity is organized by Ultimate Reentry Opportunity, a program that aims to assist those with prior convictions “rejoin” the local community and backed by the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The event will kick off at the Hotel Ithaca, and will feature a number of presentations aimed towards both potential employers and potential employees on how to hire job seekers with criminal records. The event’s keynote address will be delivered by Ithaca College President Shirley Collado.

“Having these conversations is really going to break these stigmas about incarceration,” said Taili Mugambee, director of the Ultimate Reentry Opportunity Initiative, in a phone interview with The Sun.

The Ultimate Reentry Opportunity Initiative works with the Cornell Cooperative Extension and alongside community organizers to “help formerly incarcerated women and men access the resources to successfully rejoin their local communities,” according to the group’s press release. The group is organizing this year’s job fair, as well as other upcoming events including a Parenting Through Incarceration and Reentry event.

Potential topics for the fair will include effective ways to recruit, hire and retain workers, as well as an explanation of available resources to support businesses employing job seekers with incarceration experience. The attendees will then split up into smaller groups of employers and job seekers, aiming to create a dialogue about issues facing workers with prior convictions.

About 40 service providers and employers from the Ithaca area have already signed up to attend the fair — more than last year’s 35 and approaching this year’s goal of 50 attending groups. Last year, groups like Kendal at Ithaca, a retirement care center, and FingerLakes Reuse attended, according to the initiative’s Facebook page.

This year’s fair — which will be the second annual fair of its kind — will honor Gino Bush, a local activist committed to helping formerly incarcerated people, who passed away in December.

Interested participants can sign up for the job fair online. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.