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SPARC Honored as 2011 Peace Partner

The Southwestern PA Re-entry Coalition (SPARC) was honored on Wednesday as a 2011 Peace Partner to the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime (CVVC).

Housed within the Mon Valley Initiative (MVI), SPARC was selected for the Peace Partner award because of its efforts to coordinate resources for individuals with criminal records.  In 2010, MVI served 190 ex-offenders in need of support in their personal and professional lives with assistance from the SPARC program. 

CVVC presented SPARC with the Peace Partner award at their sixth annual Peace It Together Community Initiative Reception and Awards Ceremony on February 23, 2011 at the Regional Enterprise Tower in downtown Pittsburgh.  The event recognized outstanding individuals, organizations, and grassroots initiatives that are helping people within the Greater Pittsburgh community to heal from violence and crime.

“It is an honor and privilege to be nominated and selected for such a prestigious award,” said Jeff Brooks, Director of Workforce & Business Development at MVI, who also leads the SPARC effort. “The members of the SPARC coalition deserve to be recognized for their hard work and collaborative efforts.”

Additional awardees include the Marilyn G. Rabb Foundation, the University of Pittsburgh’s Keep It Real volunteer initiative, and Arsenal Middle School Principal, Debra Rucki.

By collaborating with numerous agencies throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, such as the Pennsylvania Prison Society, Neighborhood Legal Services, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, SPARC is able to provide many resources for ex-offenders reentering society and the workforce.  These services include workforce development, childcare, health, and legal support.

In addition to serving ex-offenders, SPARC educates employers and human resource professionals on the benefits of hiring those with criminal records, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding Program. 

SPARC also holds an annual conference titled Bridging the Gap, which brings together employers and ex-offenders to discuss legislation, job opportunities, and other applicable programming.  This year, there were over 200 attendees at the conference.

For more information about SPARC, please contact the Mon Valley Initiative at 412-464-4000.

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