Ex- Felons have a unique struggle when it comes to finding work once released from incarceration. Finding a job for which they are qualified is a struggle in and of itself.
If that hurdle is cleared, there is the issue of finding an employer that will hire an ex-felon. Even if these two struggles are overcome, pay becomes an issue. Of course, minimum wage is mandated, but few can actually live on minimum wage, let alone live a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, many employers that do hire those with a criminal past do so because they believe they can pay them the minimum in light of the fact they likely cannot find a job anywhere else.
They are not wrong. This is a very real problem. There is help however, especially when it comes to the hurdle of qualification. There are grants for ex felons that can help them go back to school and gain qualifications that will enable them beat the other two hurdles.
The fact is, there are fields that are hurting for workers, and gaining knowledge in one of these areas could make it impossible for an employee that needs qualified, skilled workers to turn anyone down, regardless of their past. Lack of workers also creates salary competition, meaning higher pay for higher education.
The key to finding scholarships for ex felons is to look not only for those specifically for students with a criminal past, for those in areas that will give a competitive edge as well. There are numerous grants available in nontraditional fields of study that are available to everyone, and if demand for workers is high enough, the past will not be able to cover the current ability to fill the need.
Federal Grants for Ex Felons
There are plenty of available federal grants for ex felons, though they are not specifically for those with a criminal past. Work Study and Pell Grants are both available based on need.
To apply, simply fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will return any federal grants or scholarships for ex felons for which qualifications are met, as well as potential loan options.
Federal Re-entry Program/ Second Chance Act
The federal government signed the Second Chance Act into place as part of the Federal Re-entry Program in 2008. It grants funds to not-for profits and other organizations to help with re-entry.
Funds could be available to further education, continue treatment, find housing, and multiple other necessary functions. Read more about the Second Chance Act, and look for organizations in the community that have received funds under that act to find out what they may offer.
The State Departments of Labor for each state will have information on individual state grants for convicts. There are likely various criteria to be met, including grants that are specifically for those of a certain race, age, or sex. There may also be stipulations regarding attending treatment if necessary and class attendance requirements.
Local Colleges, Universities, and Faith Based organizations can also aid in finding grants for ex convicts. These types of resources change frequently, and organizations such as these will be able to offer up to date information on what is available and how to apply. The important thing is to start looking. There is plenty of help available and plenty of money too. Do not sit around and not put it to good use. Get to work, work the resources, and get on with a better life.