Women Investing in Second Chances

Women Investing in Second Chances


W.I.N.S. helps women build confidence and professional skills.

The women arrive every morning at 9 a.m., dressed in skirt suits and pant suits and looking ready for business. For four weeks they come together to collaborate on the most important work of their lives – themselves.

They are participants in Women Investing in Second Chances (W.I.N.S.) at the job-training program STRIVE-New Haven. There, coaches and instructors help the women learn to overcome past struggles that have made it hard for them to find employment or advance in careers.

“We do it on our own, but they [our instructors] give us the strength,” says Dorinda Thomas, who was recently hired at Walmart and has aspirations of working in the medical field. “It feels good to work again. It’s a blessing to be in this classroom with these women. I gained my self-respect back and I gained my confidence back.”

W.I.N.S., based on the STRIVE model of changing behaviors that are barriers employment, is unique in being solely focused on women. Instructors coach the women on presentation skills, how to best handle job interviews and other workplace interactions.


"I gained my self-respect back and I gained my confidence back," Dorinda Thomas.

The personal histories of participants vary. Some have been incarcerated, some are recovering from alcohol and drug addictions and some have experienced domestic abuse. All are committed to creating better futures for themselves.

Career Resources, Inc., the parent organization of STRIVE-New Haven, recently launched a chapter of W.I.N.S. at the York Correctional Facility for Women.

“We know the need is there. Women are underserved in reentry. There are very few half-way houses and post release options for them,” says Career Resources, Inc. Executive Director Scott Wilderman. “The whole goal is to make the transition from incarceration to reintegration much smoother.”

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, which has a strategic commitment to prison reentry programs, has provided grant funding to W.I.N.S. and STRIVE-New Haven.

To learn more about Career Resources, Inc., visit its profile on giveGreater.org.

Did you know?

Individuals with felony convictions are prohibited from attaining work certifications or licenses for more than thirty professions including: hairdressing; pesticide application; and massage therapy. State Rep. Robyn Porter (New Haven, Hamden) has introduced House Bill 6298 to review the criteria for licensing applications and create equity and opportunity for economic stability for individuals with criminal histories.  

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. 

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