Reinventing Youth That Lost Their Way

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Reinventing Youth That Lost Their Way

Reinventarse graduates like Kevin Pizzarro, right, have found employment with companies like Cummins. Many Komatsu Cummins employees volunteer with the program, including Ricardo Antonioi Molina Sepulveda, who served as a sponsor and is now Kevin’s manager. 

Posted: October 2014

Everyone deserves the opportunity to remake themselves, including juvenile offenders. This is the driving belief behind the Reinventarse program in Santiago, Chile.

Reinventarse, which is the Spanish translation for “reinvent,” was started in 2011 at the Komatsu- Cummins distributor as a social rehabilitation program for young people who get in trouble with the law.

“The program began with 12 young people from northern Santiago, who had each committed a crime and been sentenced on probation,” said Alejandra Gonzalez, Community Involvement Team Leader for Cummins Chile. “Reinventarse aims to break the cycle of crime and reintegrate these young people back into society.”

The program is built on five pillars:

  • Education through high school and technical training, including basic mechanics, interpretation of plans, welding and operation of heavy machinery.
  • Support to strengthen and develop family connections.
  • Personal development to foster social skills and resilience.
  • Job assistance to support long-term economic stability.
  • Outdoor activities and social meetings to increase participants’ cultural, social and intellectual capital.

Helping Youth in Chile 2Eligible offenders have completed schooling through eighth grade, possess a clean record for sexual crimes or drug addictions and are at least 18 years old.

Komatsu-Cummins employees are an essential part of the training process. In addition to teaching many of the technical modules, employees serve as mentors for young offenders throughout the entire process.

“Employees act as a positive role model who the young offenders see to be valued by society,” said Gonzalez. “They support the youths in four areas: life and working habits, extracurricular activities, instrumental and evaluative networks (to provide advice and guidance about their future) and personal and educational support.”

Employees even instill a sense of giving back in the young offenders, engaging them in community involvement activities such as Kids Day where the youth interacted with children in need, and created and performed a play.

To date, 35 young offenders have successfully completed the Reinventarse program.

From this, 25 students have joined the workforce and continue to maintain their positions. Sixteen were hired by Komatsu-Cummins.

“Reinventarse graduates have gone on to work in different positions, such as mechanical assistant, welder assistant, forklift operator or even administrative assistant,” Gonzalez said.

After evaluation of the program’s success and just two years after its implementation, the Reinventarse Foundation was formed.

“The purpose of the Reinventarse Foundation is to consolidate programmatic efforts to battle delinquency, while also inviting other companies to join this effort,” said Christopher Lathrop, Executive Director of the foundation. “Companies can partner to provide an economic contribution to the program, as well as offering potential employment to graduates.”

Companies that have joined in support include entities from the Komatsu-Cummins group, ENDESA group and FAVIMA Enterprises.

Next, the Reinventarse Foundation looks to increase the number of companies within their network to provide jobs for program graduates and sponsor employee volunteer opportunities. Additionally, the program will expand into new territories. The goal is to add at least 10 new companies and reach an additional 30 young offenders by the end of 2014.

“We hope to share Reinventarse’s intervention model with other public policy programs and all who wish to collaborate on this important issue,” Lathrop said.

The Reinventarse program was recently recognized for its innovation by the Chilean North American Chamber of Commerce in its 2013 Good Entrepreneurial Citizen awards ceremony. The results look promising. Seven out of 10 young offenders who are hired maintain their working positions after six months post-graduation. Reinventarse follows up with graduates and, according to Lathrop, after the first year recidivism is not a concern.

“None of the 35 youths who have gone through the program have returned to delinquency,” he said.

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