I've been clean for six months.
My family trusts me again.
I start a job on Monday.
These are all statements shared by men enrolled in Georgia Works, a transitional work program aimed at ending homelessness and reducing criminal recidivism. The organization’s founder, Bill McGahan, kicked off the 2019 Impact Speaker Series at Scheller College of Business.
McGahan, who founded the organization in 2013, shared his own family’s history with alcoholism, his professional career, and the work being done through Georgia Works to end homelessness across Atlanta. Prior to starting the program, McGahan, who completed an MBA at the Darden School of Business, led a professional career that included positions at RMR Group; vice chairman of UBS Securities; and managing director at Citibank. But McGahan was inspired to change his career path upon the advice of a dying friend: “You can’t help everybody, but you can at least help some people.”
In response, McGahan founded the social enterprise which puts formerly incarcerated and homeless men in Atlanta to work. “Although two-thirds of those facing homelessness are work-capable men, the majority of available resources are aimed towards the remaining third,” he said.
Georgia Works is a self-sustaining staffing enterprise that not only provides work, but basic needs and case management services as well. To date, over 600 men have graduated as tax-paying citizens with livable wages from the program; 80% of whom have been successful long-term. The costs for a graduate of the program is $2,000, compared to the $44,000 it costs the city to provide services for a man facing homelessness.
McGahan attributes the success of the program to the organization’s biggest asset – the working men themselves. “This program is preaching belief in another human being, maybe even before they believe in themselves,” he continued.
Organized by the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE) at Scheller College, Impact is a weekly series that brings successful leaders from the corporate and nonprofit sectors, as well as innovative entrepreneurs, to campus for an authentic discourse with students and staff.
Events for the series take place every Wednesday at Scheller College in room 200, at 4:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. The series is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.