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Untapped Talent: Returning Citizens to the Workforce Webinar

Returning Citizens

April is reentry awareness month, focused on efforts to build opportunities for incarcerated individuals after they’ve served their time as they reenter their communities.

Greater Des Moines Partnership Inclusion Council Member Amber Ramirez joins Partnership Director of Diversity and Inclusion Sanjita Pradhan to share information about OpportUNITY, of which she co-leads with Mary Kelly of Project Iowa, an organization that offers training services to Iowans seeking new work opportunities during the most recent Untapped Talent event.


OpportUNITY is a way to combat poverty in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Ramirez represents reentry within OpportUNITY, assisting those who were incarcerated that face issues of reentry, such as housing and getting back into the workforce. As an employer in the region, Ramirez asks employers to look inward, asking themselves how they can take advantage of this workforce and help break down unnecessary barriers. Here are a few of the reasons employers should consider returning citizens:

  • Returning citizens are the second largest work-ready pool of employees in Iowa.
  • Many are required to work as a condition of their parole.
  • Employment lowers recidivism rates.
  • One in three people have a criminal history. Companies cannot overlook 33% of the population or will miss out on skilled employees.

Ramirez discusses resources for employers, including nonprofits and government agencies around DSM that provide support, referrals, brainstorming opportunities and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The WOTC is a federal business tax credit for Iowa employers who hire individuals from target groups, including ex-felons, veterans, SSI recipients and more.

You can find information on reentry through the National Reentry Resource Center, which will be hosting reentry webinars over the course of Reentry Week from Monday, April 26 through Friday, April 30, 2021. You can also find more information on building solutions to help connect employers with talent through the United Way of Central Iowa’s Central Iowa Works.

Watch the entire webinar below:



The Untapped Talent series highlights potential employees that could provide a potential talent pool for Greater Des Moines businesses who may face barriers to employment. Look for more Untapped Talent events here.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.