Heart Foundation

Call us:1 716-834-0080

Workforce Development Programs

STEPs (Steps To Employment Preparation) PROGRAM 

HEART, in partnership with the Latino Coalition, offers STEPS (Steps To Employment this program to serve young adult (ages 18 to 24) offenders and high school dropouts in the City of Buffalo. The goal of the program is to improve the long-term employment prospects. of at-risk and justice-involved youth living in, or returning to high-crime, high-poverty communities in Buffalo, NY. STEPS provides an opportunity to develop marketable employment skills, earn certifications in recognized certificate programs, and receive practical on the job training.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and managed by the Latino Coalition STEPS will prepare program participants for success in the labor market by providing comprehensive, individualized case management services linked to workforce development and educational interventions, supports, and training programs. Participants receive intensive case management including skill assessments, abilities and aptitude, the development of an individualized service plan, goal setting for educational gains, career planning and identification of barriers preventing youth from advancement.

Participants will also receive mentoring support and participate in community service projects that support civic engagement. All participants are connected to the resources necessary to move forward towards obtaining an educational credential, developing a work ready skill, or becoming employed.

STEPS will serve approximately 300 high school drop outs and ex-offenders aged 18 - 24. STEPS will offer the following program components within a culture of safety, service, and life-long learning:

  • Workforce development: career assessments and planning, soft skill development, digital literacy training and Career and Technical Education (CTE) training programs that lead to industry-recognized certifications;
  • Education: an individualized and accelerated pathway to reach graduation or diploma equivalency using academic assessments and planning, robust academic supports, and effective teaching strategies including contextual and blended learning approaches and literacy training;
  • Case management: comprehensive, intensive case management that identifies youth needs and develops individualized supports;
  • Mentoring: one-on-one and small group mentoring consistent with the evidence-based standards of recruitment, screening, training, matching, monitoring and support, and closure;
  • Restorative justice: service learning projects that embrace the three goals of the Balanced and Restorative Justice model: accountability, public safety, and competency;
  • Community-wide efforts to reduce crime and violence: collaboration with communities and system officials to assess and reduce community violence.


  • In an economy that demands a highly sophisticated and educated workforce, young adults who are high school drop-outs and/or leaving the justice system often struggle academically and lack both the soft and technical skills needed to compete for a shrinking pool of jobs.
  • Ex-offenders and high school drop-outs also commonly present with needs across multiple life domains, such as education, employment, health care, mental health, substance abuse, peer and family relations, and housing that impair their ability to participate in the workforce. These needs are further complicated for young adults removed from their community and social supports during the key developmental phase of adolescence and placed in a facility (prison).
  • To establish a foundation for labor market success, STEPS will identify each young adult's academic strengths and challenges and develop an individualized and accelerated pathway to reach diploma equivalency and/or higher education. In addition, to aid in the overall well-being of its participants, STEPS will provide case management in a trauma-informed setting and other supports, such as mentoring, proven to be effective in improving adolescent self-efficacy and social competence and reducing problem behavior.
  • In addition to improving the long-term employment prospects of its participants, STEPS  aims to strengthen local capacity for serving ex-offenders and/or high school drop outs and serve as a model to be replicated in other high-crime, high-poverty communities across the country.

Program Eligibility:       

Youth, ages,18-24

Ex-Offender or on probation

High School Drop Out




New York State should pass legislation to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 so that youth who are charged with a crime are treated in more age appropriate manner.


Powered by Fission Content Management System | Website Design by 360 PSG