AMOS Project puts faith in fair employment

The Ohio Justice & Policy Center had been working on the issue for three years. Its workers knew that one box on job applications often left qualified workers without a prayer of an interview opportunity. “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

Nearly 2 million Ohioans with felony and misdemeanor convictions faced a no-win situation when applying for jobs, adding to unemployment lines and perpetuating cycles of poverty.

Support from the AMOS Project, a nonprofit coalition of 25 congregations, helped push a Fair Hiring Policy through Cincinnati City Council in 2010 and helped pass a statewide bill to build pathways to post-incarceration employment.

How did an organization formed out of a shared commitment to advancing justice and improving quality of life end up working on fair hiring practices? “We started to realize that in a lot of neighborhoods, being out of work was closely connected to having a criminal record,” says AMOS Project Executive Director Paul Graham.

Since its founding in the late 1990s, the AMOS Project has crossed denominational and political lines to take public positions on issues that impact “everyday people,” Graham says. “We work on issues that are counter to power structures. Most folks are actually in the category of the have-nots.”

Graham, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, grew up in Illinois. He ran an interfaith organization in Massachusetts before moving to Cincinnati in 2008 to help the AMOS Project with a massive Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign.

“We run the largest non-partisan GOTV campaign in Hamilton County,” says the 31-year-old Kennedy Heights resident.  After that job was done, he was hired to take on the nonprofit’s leadership role.

The AMOS Project partners with a number of like-minded nonprofits, including the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Ohio Faith & Justice, the Ohio Justice & Policy Center and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Its current work revolves around immigrant rights, worker rights and building networks of parishioners across denominations, around the city.

Do Good:

• Build a website. Currently, the AMOS Project’s limited staff hasn’t allowed for the construction or maintenance of a website. If you can help, email Graham or call the office, 513-751-2222.

Like the AMOS Project on Facebook. Keep up with the latest news and activities online.

• Make a difference. Donate your time or money to support the AMOS Project’s work. Call the office, 513-751-2222, to find out how.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter.

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