Chicago, IL – August 29, 2022 –A Safe Haven Foundation is proud to announce the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship has Approved A Safe Haven Landscaping (ASHL) as a Registered Apprenticeship Program for its Landscape Technician and Safety workforce development efforts. ASHL is a pioneering and award-winning nonprofit social business enterprise and A Safe Haven Foundation subsidiary. ASHL has trained and employed over 3,000 people with barriers to employment, including reentry, military veterans, and homeless populations, since 1993.

A Safe Haven Landscaping Company is a creative partnership that started between the Chicago Christian Industrial League (CCIL) and the City of Chicago under Mayor Richard J. Daley’s administration. It was much to the delight of the late first lady Maggie Daley. Her love for tulips helped to spearhead the idea to make it a world-class city and top tourist destination by introducing flowers to Michigan Avenue, known as Chicago’s Cultural Mile, Magnificent Mile, and the Rooftop at City Hall, to name a few.

Due to the financial hardship caused by the 2008 recession, in 2009, CCIL and the Landscaping company were on the verge of closing. To avoid closure, a move that would’ve forced hundreds of CCIL homeless clients to live on the streets, among many other nonprofits, A Safe Haven was invited and asked to participate in a public vetting process held by top local foundations, banks, funders and the mayor’s office to assume all of CCIL’s financial liabilities to help save the organization and steward it back to financial health.  After almost 14 months of due diligence, ASHF was selected based on our mission alignment, the long track record for success, solid management team, and demonstrated financial strength.  ASHF then assumed responsibility for restoring the organization’s finances, services, and programs to meet the highest fidelity standards. ASHF has grown the organization’s funder base and budget significantly and has since been recognized by many stakeholders as an international model for innovation in creating one of the most comprehensive and integrated systems designed to rebuild the lives of almost anyone in crisis due to a myriad of reasons and foster individualized and long-term success.

Throughout the decades, ASHF leadership, culture, and brand have helped mainstream the cause due to their tireless and fearless advocacy for the homeless. Often in the shadows of other local and national priorities and causes, ASHF has expanded the capacity for social, behavioral health, economic, and housing development programs through public and private partnerships. At the height of the pandemic, 2020-2021 helped many employers find workers and helped put over 1,200 formerly homeless people back to work. The newly accredited landscaping program joins previously accredited ASHF job training programs to meet the hiring needs of high-demand careers, including culinary arts, security guard, and welding job training programs.

Today, the ASHF portfolio of social enterprises often serves as an excellent paid stepping stone and transitional on-the-job training program for many in need. They include ASH landscaping, catering, and staffing services. Thanks to our organic growth, these social enterprises boast a network of socially responsible municipal and corporate customers throughout the Chicagoland area and help us employ hundreds of people annually.

The ASHL Technical Training Program is designed to provide an information-based classroom training environment backed up by a hands-on, in-the-field learning experience to provide real-world, industry skills training for Chicago’s at-risk-youth, veterans, and individuals who have come through the A Safe Haven’s substance use treatment program. The result is one of Chicago’s premier landscaping companies that provides superior quality and affordability to its customers while providing real and meaningful opportunities for the disadvantaged.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA™ empowers apprenticeship sponsors, apprentices, and other apprenticeship stakeholders to help share best practices, provide technical assistance, knowledge about funding opportunities, resources, and best practices for advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) within organizations. The branding effort also seeks to dispel common myths and demonstrate that Registered Apprenticeship is a universal training model which can be applied to anyone, in any industry, anywhere in the country.

Registered Apprenticeship is a proven recruitment, training, and retention strategy for all industries that enables employers to develop, train, and the purpose of the ApprenticeshipUSA brand is to engage and empower apprenticeship stakeholders to help support the Office of Apprenticeship’s broader goal to expand, diversify, modernize, and strengthen Registered Apprenticeship to meet critical industry needs and build a pipeline of diverse talent into good, quality jobs, especially for underserved and marginalized communities.

Registered Apprenticeship continues to demonstrate strong growth with a 64% increase in new apprentices over the past ten years and is expected to continue to grow as demand increases. Through the launch of the new ApprenticeshipUSA brand, DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship will work with partners to continue to expand and promote Registered Apprenticeship programs in more communities across the nation, giving career seekers access to good, quality jobs and employers a pipeline of diverse talent to meet the workforce needs of today and the future.

Apprentices enrolled in the Landscape Technician Program benefit from a comprehensive progressive paid on-the-job training program and a supplementary classroom-based learning component. Trainees progress through various modules coupled with their work-based employment to achieve full journeyman level Certification.

“We are pleased to offer this “earn-while-you-learn” apprenticeship program in the Landscape Technician” occupation. Our passion and purpose at A Safe Haven Landscaping are two-fold: to ‘enhance urban landscapes” one median, campus, or rooftop at a time while implementing our premier and award-winning model of Social Business Enterprise that fosters personal and professional growth, community rehabilitation, and success. While operating as a successful, competitive, and professional landscaping business, A Safe Haven Landscaping Services continues to focus on and promote the ultimate goal and purpose with which it was founded: to educate, train and empower Chicago’s less fortunate. This new accreditation by the Department of Labor will allow us to scale and amplify our programs and do more to get people in need back into the workforce and in a position to support themselves and their families than we ever could before.” said Neli Vazquez Rowland, President, and Co-Founder of A Safe Haven Foundation.

About A Safe Haven Foundation

A Safe Haven is a local, national, and internationally recognized 501(c)3 not-for-profit, social enterprise innovative private/public model designed to help people aspire, transform, and sustain their lives as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.  A Safe Haven provides the tools for each individual to overcome the root causes of homelessness through a holistic, scalable model.  A Safe Haven’s visible social and economic impact unites families, stabilizes neighborhoods, and creates vibrant, viable communities. For more information, please visit www.ASafeHaven.org.