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Helping 'at-risk' Tulsa youth find jobs

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It's the first day of summer, and many young people are looking for summer jobs. Of course, we're always hearing how tough it is to find work. Now imagine you have a police record. That makes it nearly impossible.

But as News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg tells us, Tulsa is one of a handful of cities to get a federal grant to help find jobs for at-risk youth. If you've had a scrape with the law and if you're an employer who's being asked to hire someone who's had trouble with the law. There's skepticism on both sides.

"It was hard, everywhere I go, they always turned me down, 'cause I got a felony and they wouldn't give me any chance. They just turned me down." Donaco Jones and Laren Edwards are two of the first people in Tulsa to benefit from a federal grant through the Workforce Alliance for Youth. At first, they thought it was too good to be true. Laren thought, "This is a trick." "At first when I heard about it through my probation officer, I didn't think it was going to help at all, but it's a good program."

Laren and Donaco both work at a Tulsa company called Crackshot Products, which makes protective clothing for hunters and fishermen. They're duties are inspecting the gear for defects and packaging. Owner Tom Hargrove has given several people with police records a chance for work. “There is such a thing as turning your life around, there is such a thing as making a mistake, and they need the opportunity to be a better person."

Through the grant, Hargrove will be partially compensated for the time it took to train Laren and Donaco. The program also provides some money for Laren and Donaco for various needs, like bus fare to get to and from work. The two, both 21, are close to getting their GED's and going to college.

Donaco wants to eventually be a counselor for other young people in trouble. Laren has gotten an idea from Hargrove. "Start my own business." Something he hadn't thought of before. "But now I think, I know I can.”
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