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Merit's mission is to develop a social enterprise that demonstrates how the needs of business to be profitable can be merged with the needs of young adult offenders to experience to experience the hope, pride and self-confidence that comes with gainful employment.
Merit's broad goals are to show how:
- a commercially based operation can be 100% self-sustaining and profitable within the security constraints of a correctional facility;
- young people from such disparate backgrounds can become a team committed to each other's success as well as the success of the company; and
- a community benefits from supporting a social enterprise that gives employees the work habits, skills and self-confidence necessary to enter the job market upon their release from prison.
Merit Corporation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working with the California Youth Authority's Free Venture Program to employ young adult offenders (wards 18 to 25 years old) in real world jobs that prepare them for release to the outside world.
Merit pays its ward employees a fair market wage out of which the wards pay taxes. From their net wages, ward employees contribute:
- 15% toward fines and victim restitution;
- 20% toward room and board; and
- 40% into a savings account held for their release.
Statistics show that through job programs similar to Merit's, recidivism is reduced by as much as 80%
Operating out of the CYA's N.A. Chaderjian Youth Facility in Stockton, CA, Merit provides "surplus electronics management services" for several Silicon Valley companies including Lockheed Martin, SanDisk, Abbott Laboratories, Agilent Technologies and Northrop Grumman. These client companies dispose of their surplus electronics (electronics manufacturing equipment, test equipment, office equipment, and electronic components) through Merit who inventories and processes the material for resale and/or recycle; and then for the client companies, documents the final disposition of their material.
Merit is succeeding: Merit has built a 100% self-sustaining operation within a correctional facility, where besides Merit's one, full-time civilian employee, all the employees are young adult offenders who for the most part have never before been gainfully employed. And though Merit is continually training new employees as its trained one's are paroling out of the institution, Merit nonetheless maintains a standard of performance and expectations that gives its client companies confidence in the service they receive, and Merit's employees pride in the service they render.
For more information on Merit, please go to www.meritcorp.org.