CLEVELAND -- A new bakery in Cleveland is seeing the possible by helping people with criminal records and other barriers, get trained and back into the workforce.
WKYC Channel 3's Hilary Golston had a look inside Bloom Bakery before it opens. Located in 200 Public Square, the cafe is expected to be open Wednesday, March 9.
Bloom Artisan Bakery and Café is a chance for people with barriers to work to blossom. Ninety percent of the workers have a felony record.
At a preview event Wednesday night, samples of food were doled out to those who attended.
Bloom Bakery is a product of Towards Employment, a non-profit organization that helps people find jobs and become self-sufficient. The venture has been called a "social enterprise," which was incorporated as a public benefit corporation.
The storefront and bakery are expected to generate jobs but also raise funds for Towards Employment’s programs and services.
The menu is far from finalized, but right now it includes about 10 different sandwich types, 5 salad options, espresso drinks, coffee, bottled beverages, baked goods and other savory and sweet items.
Prison Legal News reports felons make up every 1 in 15 working-age people, but only 40 percent of employers say they would hire someone with a criminal record.
A credible work history, references and skills could help former prisoners obtain permanent employment.
The effect of this type of underemployment on the economy is profound, reportedly reducing America's GDP by an estimated $57 billion to $65 billion in 2008, according to Prison Legal News.
Baked items come from the bakery on Euclid, across from Cleveland State University.
Seventy percent in the program will work at the bakery. Another 30 percent will work in the cafe located in Public Square.
After about a year, many of the program enrollees will be able to find more permanent work.