The Mon Valley Initiative
The Mon Valley Initiative (MVI) is a 501(c)(3) grass-roots coalition formed in 1988, made up of 10 community development corporations. These neighbors, representing twelve municipalities, came together in an attempt to deal with the losses of jobs, people, and tax base after the closing of the major steel mills and related industries in the region. The individual community development corporations (CDCs) were formed, either newly organized or from existing groups. In 1988, all of the groups agreed to form a coalition that would provide shared staffing and support for the CDC projects. This coalition, now 28 years old, is the Mon Valley Initiative. Members of the MVI coalition have learned that by working together, they are able to more effectively implement change and marshal far greater resources than if they struggled on their own. MVI’s mission is “working together to unite the communities and restore the economic vitality of the Mon Valley.” The purpose of the Mon Valley Initiative’s Workforce & Business Development Program is to assist unemployed and underemployed individuals to prepare for as well as access employment opportunities that exist in the region. The Workforce Program operates as a Financial Opportunity Center (FOC), offering a comprehensive blend of career development, financial coaching and income supportive services. In addition to the assistance provided to jobseekers, the program works with local employers to understand and help meet their human resource needs. MVI’s other program areas include Real Estate Development, Community Outreach, and Housing Counseling.
Formed in 2002 as a program of MVI, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Reentry Coalition (SPARC) is a collaboration of agencies in Southwestern Pennsylvania that coordinate resources for individuals whose criminal record creates barriers to self-sufficiency. SPARC addresses the needs of previously incarcerated individuals, both pre and post-release, providing them with the necessary resources to prevent recidivism. In addition, SPARC holds annual conferences and conducts informative “Lunch & Learns” that provide high-quality education and networking opportunities for agencies who contribute to the reentry process. MVI staff works directly with parole and probation officers along with county, state and federal institutions, conducting job fairs, interviewing sessions, and other employment and professional development activities.
For additional information about Mon Valley Initiative and SPARC, please visit www.monvalleyinitiative.com.
Tracey Reaves is Director of Workforce & Business Development at the Mon Valley Initiative (MVI), as well as the Southwestern Pa Reentry Coalition (SPARC).
Tracey Reaves brings over two decades of managerial experience coupled with direct family and career development expertise. With a BA in Communications and Business Management from the University of Pittsburgh, and a work history that includes relevant positions across the non-profit and for-profit worlds, Ms. Reaves adds significant value continually improving MVI’s Workforce & Business Development operations, staff professional development and participant service delivery. Nearly 75% of the participants served have criminal backgrounds, and Ms. Reaves has successfully guided the Workforce & Business Development Program to achieving record-breaking employment and job retention outcomes that have contributed to participant recidivism rates at under 3%. Her supervision of the Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition (SPARC) has broaden the coalition’s influence as well as statewide awareness.
Ms. Reaves’ corporate experience includes management, talent acquisition and development, strategic planning, along with sales and marketing. Ms. Reaves also has wide-ranging experience working in the human services field where she provided education to low-income individuals with significant barriers through family development, parenting skills, time management, financial coaching, personal goal setting and career planning. Ms. Reaves’ array of experiences have given her a unique understanding of the perspective of non-profit and profit-driven businesses along with the perspective of those struggling in poverty. Ms. Reaves is effectively serving as a critical bridge between these worlds. Her work is shaped by her conviction that every person should be afforded an opportunity, along with respect and the right to achieve his or her full potential that is free from stigma or discrimination.
Click here to email Tracey.
Camille Smith is Job Developer for the Workforce & Business Development Program at the Mon Valley Initiative (MVI) and Reentry Coordinator for the Southwestern Pa Reentry Coalition (SPARC).
Camille Smith holds over 15 years of intensive case management experience working in the human services field where she provided education to teen parents and low-income individuals through family development, parenting skills, financial coaching, personal goal setting and career planning. Ms. Smith is currently pursuing a BS is Psychology, and her years of “boots on the ground” professional experience have given her a distinctive responsiveness and true compassion for individuals struggling with significant barriers. As Job Developer for MVI, she cultivates partnerships with local and regional employers by providing education and awareness of the Federal Bonding Program and Work Opportunity Tax Credit and developing direct employment connections for job seekers, specifically those with criminal backgrounds. These employer partner connections have yielded 20% increases in annual employment outcomes. As the Reentry Coordinator for SPARC, she has delivered various presentations at county and state correctional institutions and she spearheaded a peer-to peer initiative among MVI participants. Ms. Smith powerfully unites and engages various community partners, human services agencies, parole and probation officers, as well as reentry professionals from state and federal correctional institutions. Collectively they work together to break down barriers in employment, housing and transportation for individuals with criminal backgrounds. Ms. Smith’s work reflects her personal and professional belief in creating bridges that connect individuals to knowledge that transforms lives and circumstance.
Click here to email Camile.
Documentation and Presentations
Jail Collaborative – Allegheny County PowerPoint (PDF)