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We are a partnership between the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the National Society of St. Vincent de Paul. This partnership brings together one of the country's largest and most significant funders of grassroots organizing and leadership development with one of the country's largest volunteer driven service organizations. The goal of the partnership is to develop the leadership skills of formerly incarcerated individuals and Vincentians to work together to address barriers to re-entry. Together, we are rebuilding lives through relationship, leadership development and collective advocacy.
State Coordinator Mykal Tairu leads the Re-Entry Project. Mykal is a native of Fort Washington MD, a Washington, DC suburb. He relocated to Florida in 2007 to attend Bethune-Cookman University where he earned his Bachelor’s in Religion & Philosophy. After graduating from B-CU in 2011, he traveled to New Haven Connecticut to pursue a Masters degree in Religion at Yale University. At Yale, Mykal concentrated in Black Religion in the African Diaspora and completed a thesis that explored ways in which the black church can help improve minority student achievement.
Currently, Mykal is coordinating the reentry efforts with St Vincent de Paul Orlando. Mykal has been at the center of the “Ban the Box” efforts in Central Florida, a campaign that addresses the barriers to employment for formally-incarcerated individuals. Mykal has made appearances on Fox 35, News Channel 13, My65’s “Orlando Matters”, and WFTV 9 concerning the Vincentian Re-Entry Organizing Project’s “Ban the Box” campaigns.
He is married to Shanicka Tairu, a 3rd grade teacher with Volusia County Schools. Together they are the parents of twin girls (Jordyn and Imani) who were born in February 2015. Mykal’s service is guided by a favorite scripture, 1 John 3:18, which reads “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions in truth.”
“Ban the Box”
Conservative estimates indicate roughly 70 million people in the United States have some sort of criminal record, and nearly 700,000 people return to our communities from incarceration each year. In the state of Florida there are 1.54 million citizens with felony convictions.
“The box” on a job application is a barrier to jobs because it artificially narrows the applicant pool of qualified workers. Disclosing a criminal record on an initial job application reduces the likelihood of a job call back or offer by nearly 50%. Supporting the employment opportunities of people with records is good for business, creates safe communities, and it helps the economy.
“Ban the Box” is the name of a national campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for formally–incarcerated individuals, aimed at persuading employers to remove from their initial hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record. By “Banning the Box” employers are postponing their background check until later in the hiring process, allowing applicants to present themselves before being disqualified based on a “checked box”
The Vincentian Re-Entry Organizing Project-Florida has successfully persuaded the cities of Orlando and Daytona Beach to adopt Ban the Box Policies. St Vincent de Paul Orlando had also adopted a “Ban the Box” policy for their initial employment applications.