RX Made

The Rebuilding Exchange, a Chicago-based building-material salvage and reuse firm, offers job training to individuals transitioning out of the criminal justice system through its RX Made workshop. There, workers learn how to fabricate pieces such as tables (metal-base coffee table, shown), shelves, boxes, and benches from locally sourced materials. The four-year old program has hosted 82 trainees in three-month or year-long segments and has developed its own furniture line. The 2014 program will host five or six trainees for nine months under the tutelage of three full-time staff, one of whom is a graduate of the program. “It is very difficult for people who have a criminal record to get an opportunity in the workforce,” says Elise Zelechowski, the organization’s executive director. “What social enterprises like ours do is provide an opportunity for somebody not only to get skills and learn about new types of jobs, but they also give them an opportunity to have a job for a specific amount of time—what we call a transitional job, so they can build their resume and build their network.”

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