As a means to pull people out of deep poverty, BOSS is developing an innovative business model, documenting our hiring practices for people with non-traditional backgrounds (i.e. no college degree, veterans, formerly incarcerated, etc.) with the understanding that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution. This training series, the BOSS Workplace Education & Development Training Module, is being collaboratively designed by BOSS staff with lived experience, supported by senior management.

For over 40 years BOSS has had a demonstrated commitment to hiring from our target community – with the four-fold goal of 1) providing living wage job opportunities to those we serve, 2) developing new leaders, 3) setting an example for other employers about the untapped talents historically excluded workers bring to the table, and 4) ensuring that our work is guided by the direct input of impacted individuals. Today, we are formalizing a Continuous Educational Training Series for the over 40% of BOSS staff County-wide with lived experience – in BOSS reentry programs, it’s 90%.

These men and women often face special challenges, having been hired directly following time in prison, in gangs, in poverty, or on the street. BOSS wanted to design a training module that gave them the skills, tools and support they need to succeed and thrive in new work environments, with new expectations.

A collaborative process was created wherein a senior manager facilitator is leading staff committee utilizing an interchange learning process in the creation, teaching and learning of the professional development curriculum. Based on their feedback and specific requests, the trainings/seminars/workshops will include modules on:

  • Personal care (e.g. wellness, work-life balance)
  • Technical knowledge (e.g. policies, procedures, laws/regs, services, resources)
  • Interpersonal communication (e.g. written/oral, communication with stakeholders, funders, elected officials, and others)
  • Professional ethics
  • Practice-based learning and improvement plans (e.g. self-evaluation, lifelong learning, formative feedback, professional development)

The finished manual will include written policies and tools for Self-Evaluation, Training (Classes or One-on-One Coaching), Professional Development Standards, and Standard Operating Procedures.

We are very excited to have staff with lived experience leading the way in the development of this series, which will be an innovative model that can be used in other organizations and other communities who want to hire people with non-traditional backgrounds!

Pictured above: BOSS Workplace Education & Development Committee (staff and consultants), 01-06-20 meeting

For more information about this series contact Executive Director Donald Frazier at

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