President George W. Bush once said “America is the land of the second chance – when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.” Rise Up Industries takes this quote to heart, providing a re-entry program for ex-gang members through life skills courses and notably, their machine shop.
Located in an industrial corner of Santee, California, the relatively new non-profit machine shop started small. It wasn’t even until May of 2017 that they were able to take on more than two trainees, and their very first graduate completed the program in November of 2017.
Rise Up has lots of Haas machines on hand and beautifully produced parts are scattered in carts among the shop floor. Other than the training they receive on machines, the trainees also take part in life skills training, meet with a case manager, have counseling, and they even participate in a book club every Friday.
“I’ve been in mold making and tool making [for years] – I grew up in it,” says Dustin Greeves, who is the Rise Up Machine Shop Manager. “My grandfather owned his own shop for 25 years and I say this trade will give you everything you give it. It may not happen right away, but it will.” Read on, for more info!
“You can make a really good living being a machinist, tool maker, inspection,” Dustin continued, saying how important the experiences are for him imparting his experience to trainees. “All these guys in here are amazing and they’re like family, so we depend on each other. We help each other with the workload and the daily struggle.”
We had the opportunity to speak to a trainee named John, who told us the tale of how over the years, he has gone from being a criminal who didn’t make an honest living and took the life of another person, to being a responsible adult holding down three jobs.
Before he was told about Rise Up by a parole agent, he was working through a staffing agency, doing heavy-duty construction work. He would be away from home from about 5 in the morning until around 7 at night.
With a skills gap of over 2 Million jobs needing filling in the manufacturing industry, ex-gang members leaving prison could be a great resource, as well as provide them with a stable career after prison. Programs like Rise Up, as well as the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program, could ultimately help ex-convicts from being arrested again, as well as to help an industry badly in need of skilled workers.
During the visit to Rise Up, Shop Floor Automations President Greg Mercurio was humbled. “It’s awesome just to see,” he said, his eyes wide behind his safety glasses. “I’ve never been around anyone who has had that experience, to talk to them. What a life story and the changes that come out of it.”
Here are some ways in which you can donate to Rise Up Industries:
• GivingTuesday.org will match donations up to $100,000
• The CoinUp app donates your spare change from credit card purchases to a charity you choose
• Use AmazonSmile when you check out and they donate a portion of the sale to a charity of your choosing, at no cost to you
Other than machining parts in their shop, Rise Up also does screen printing and embroidery, plus they sell specialty gourmet coffee that is locally roasted. For more information on donations or services, call (619) 457-0790 or visit their website for more information.
If you have a machine shop and are looking to boost your productivity through automation software and hardware, we would love it if you gave SFA a call! Call (619) 461-4000 or fill out a contact form for one of our many solutions.