Ready, Willing & Able is the most comprehensive transitional work program in the country. Since 1990 the program has transitioned more than 22,000 men back to mainstream society after incarceration and homelessness. At the heart of Ready, Willing & Able is paid transitional work—the opportunity to go to work and earn money from a participant’s first day in the program—complemented by transitional housing, education, career development and training, and personalized case management and social services. After 9-12 months, participants graduate from the program with the work and life skills necessary to achieve permanent self-sufficiency and become economic engines for their families and in their communities. Download the PDF.
Ready, Willing & Able serves more than 1,000 men at any one time across three residential facilities in Harlem and Brooklyn. After one month of stabilization, participants begin approximately seven months of paid work cleaning streets and sidewalks throughout New York City. Four-six months of paid occupational training in one of several growth industries, including the culinary arts, commercial driving, pest control, building maintenance, and fleet management, prepares men for stable careers after graduation. Mandatory education classes throughout the program cover a variety of essential skills, including adult literacy, financial management, relapse prevention, conflict resolution, and parenting (for those with children under 18). Optional educational opportunities are also available, including the chance to achieve high school equivalency diplomas and pursue post-secondary coursework and degrees. During their final months in the program, participants are connected with employment opportunities and assisted in applying for self-supported apartments.
Ready, Willing & Able does not simply benefit the men it serves. It benefits their families, their communities, and the nation as a whole. An independent study by Harvard University’s Dr. Bruce Western found that Ready, Willing & Able graduates are 60% less likely to be convicted of a felony three years after exiting the program. Overall, the program cuts the risk of future police contact by a third. Ready, Willing & Able also lifts the enormous financial burdens of incarceration, recidivism, and homelessness. An independent audit found that for every dollar utilized in the program, New York taxpayers saved $3.60 in costs associated with emergency city services and the criminal justice system. The Doe Fund is actively considering requests to develop a full replication program for locations throughout the United States.