We BelieveCommunity before Company.
On the Road to Damascus
Damascus is a game changer. We connect people in our talent network with local companies, which tackles two challenges at once. We are problem solvers–from transportation to personal development– which gives our workforce team the realistic means to find and keep sustainable employment.
Community Before Company — Damascus is a reentry model that emphasizes personal accountability, workforce development and life vision with the workers we hire. Our relationships begin long before individuals (re)join the workplace and long after they have started the job. Damascus puts people first, and we only meet our goals when our employees and employment partners meet theirs.
No Shame in Our Game — Damascus is transparent in its mission. We began with an unconventional approach to solving workforce needs of local employer. Today, we continue to spend as many hours as it takes to educate our partners on the truth about incarceration, addiction and under-resourced lives. If employees thrive, we thrive.
“Damascus goes above and beyond in recruiting qualified candidates. We have an employee from Damascus who’s dedicated and passionate and it shows in his performance. This is a win-win for employers today.”Tracy P.
In the Beginning
Damascus begin in 2015 as Elevation Industries with one overarching goal: to bring a reentry model to Cincinnati, Ohio, that delivered real results for real people and real companies in real time. Todd and Christine Marallen combined their years of experience in both the Corporate and Criminal Justice worlds to create the Damascus Model: putting employment solutions together that benefit everyone in the equation: companies, workers, families and taxpayers. By leveraging professional contacts–and without government subsidy–Damascus built one partner at a time by preparing and walking with men and women returning home from incarceration and placing them into employment opportunities at organizations that recognized the value in second-chance hiring to their bottom line.
From the beginning, Damascus has operated with little regard for how it has “always been done,” who is standing in the way or who quarrels with the ideology.
In 2015, the first Damascus worker, previously unable to attain permanent work because of a felony background, stepped onto the path of permanent employment. Since that time, thousands of men and women who were previously living off taxpayer-funded assistance have found employment through Damascus. In 2016, Damascus became an Enterprise Partner with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, later expanding to the Columbus, Ohio region, in 2018.
Built on Best Practices
The Damascus Model was built by coalescing years of best practices–both those we invented ourselves and those we witnessed in others. While we agree there are lots of good people doing good things in the areas of reentry and employment, we have yet to find another organization available 24/7 to hammer out the challenges, meet human needs when they arise or create solutions that positively affect both individuals and entire organizations. Damascus is transparent; we aren’t interested in the way it’s always been.
“The Damascus Model incorporates evidence-based practices for successful reentry and is supplemented by professional experience that is essential in achieving stated outcomes i.e. corrections, corporate, legal, faith-based and education.”Jack Cowley
We make sure our employees have transportation to and from employment locations. Transportation is a massive hurdle for an individual without access to a car or with a job outside of the public transit system. We find solutions and provide accommodations for our employees so that transportation is not the factor holding them back from finding employment.
A Reliable Community
Through and above it all, Damascus gives back what we’ve been given: a sense of belonging and membership in something bigger than ourselves. We reinvest in workers who make mistakes along the way and, because of that, can provide workers who focus on the job while they are at work–which is what employers need to meet their organizational goals.
Utilizing evidence-based approaches and years of experience studying and working inside the prison system, Damascus offers practical programs for individuals within two years of release to address the hurdles associated with reintegrating into society. Our research partners have a vested interest in determining the most effective methods to (re)integrate men and women into successful lives.
Not only do we work with our employees while they are finding and maintaining employment, but we also work with our employees before and as they exit the prison system. Our leadership team works with men and women behind bars and in halfway programs so that we can build a strong relationship and trust between one another. When our employees begin a new job, we are there on Day 1. It’s a small gesture that makes all the difference.