Phoenix Company Works To Help Women In Prison Build Careers

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 5:03pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 7:21am

women seated at cubicles and talking on phones
Jack Hooker
Employees at Televerde's Triumph Engagement Center at Perryville Prison in Goodyear in 2019.

A Phoenix-based company is creating more opportunities for women in prison and those who’ve been recently released. 

At Perryville Prison in Goodyear, some women get to accessorize their orange uniforms with black headsets. They’re paid employees of Televerde, a sales and marketing company that runs seven engagement centers at prisons in Indiana and Arizona. Michelle Cirocco used to work at the Triumph Engagement Center at Perryville.

“Everybody deserves to have an opportunity,” she said.

After her release, Cirocco climbed the corporate ladder at Televerde, and now she’s overseeing the company’s new nonprofit foundation to provide training, education and re-entry programs.

women gathered around a computer
Jack Hooker
Michelle Cirocco (seated lower left) is a former engagement center employee who now leads the Televerde Foundation.

“The biggest challenge is we send people to prison and then when they get out it’s difficult for them to  find a job and ultimately they end up going back to prison,” she said. “So the No. 1 predictor for recidivism is joblessness.”

Cirocco said the foundation will start by helping inmates working at Televerde’s engagement centers master their jobs and provide advanced training and secondary education. By partnering with other nonprofits, businesses, government agencies and service providers, the programming will focus on:

  • Workplace readiness
  • Career development
  • Financial literacy
  • Personal leadership
  • Health and wellness
  • Community re-integration

The program will also provide ongoing scholarships and development services after the women are released.

In a prepared statement, Morag Lucey, CEO of Televerde, said, “As we navigate COVID-19, organizations must keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their business strategies and recovery plans so that we can create a new reality where everyone can succeed in today’s labor market.”