MEMPHIS, Tenn — Kroger is lending a lot more than its name to a city program aimed at helping men and women looking for a second chance.
The company is also offering jobs with competitive pay and benefits and new opportunity has promise for the entire city.
Started in 2016, Manhoood University was created by the City of Memphis to encourage and employ the men of Memphis to reach their highest potential.
Two years later, WOWS, Women Offering Women Support was launched with the same mission.
To date more than 200 men and women have completed the 6 session program. Many landing jobs and contributing to society.
Ken Moody, special assistant to Mayor Jim Strickland.
"These are individuals that are a part of our community. We need to embrace them," said Moody.
Many of the participants are former prisoners, but now have so- called soft skills like effective communications, interview preparation, credit and financial literacy.
Now, thanks to this partnership with Kroger, these men and women will earn more than $15 per hour, have a 401k and more.
"I mean they become law abiding citizens, the become taxpayers, they become good neighbors," said Moody.
Matters that impact the entire community.
While they all face challenges getting back on track it's the men who've served time leaving kids on the outside with specific challenges.
"Some of them have the mindset that if I go to work then they're going to take all my money for child support so I may as well not work, so we work with them and we work with those agencies that deal with child support to help them get on payment plans," said Moody.
Although their circumstance, legally, suspends that responsibility, it's an example of the uphill road they face.
"I will tell you this Rudy, what's amazing too. These are some intelligent hard-working people. The individuals have gone to work for the city and other companies. We hear back saying these are some of the most hardworking, dedicated individuals we have," said Moody.