Peter Cove

Social activist

Peter Cove, social activist and businessman, is one of the nation's leading advocates for private solutions to welfare dependency, ex-offender reentry initiatives and for meeting the needs of underserved, marginalized populations.

During his 28-year career, he has been at the forefront of innovative demonstration projects designed to mitigate poverty by promoting jobs as a solution to welfare dependency. Mr. Cove began his career in the mid-Sixties, as the nation's conscience turned to poverty issues impacting all populations groups.

After holding key posts in New York City municipal government, he worked for The Community Action Agency in Boston, where he developed grass-roots health, housing and education programs. Later he served as a consultant with Manpower Assistance Project, Inc., a private company partially funded by the Ford Foundation to create community employment systems. He was also a program officer at the New World Foundation in New York City, funding innovative programs in civil rights and education.

With a developing expertise in jobs creation as the solution to social imbalances, Mr. Cove became Director of the Manhattan Project for Wildcat Service Corp., a program geared to the hard-core unemployable. From 1976 to 1983, he was President of Transitional Employment Enterprises. Inc., a private corporation that specialized in placing welfare recipients, the mentally retarded, and the physically disabled in jobs. In experimenting with alternate approaches to training, he created millions of dollars' worth of private-sector investment for what would otherwise have been a fully government-funded endeavor.

As the founder of America Works in 1984, Mr. Cove has worked to link private-sector investment and employment with welfare reform. Recently, Mr. Cove has devoted his energy to prisoner reentry initiatives, advocating tirelessly for second chance legislation on a national level, to inform policy makers that the work first model of services is the answer for successful reintegration of ex-offenders into communities.

In 2005, Mr. Cove founded the Work First Foundation, devoted to sponsoring projects that offer job opportunities for the underserved, including the untrained and employed worker, displaced worker, refugees, ex-offenders, or any other individual with barriers to employment; advancing their knowledge of and access to the world of work; assisting others to promote these ends, including studying issues leading to economic and social disadvantage. Through his work as President and Director of the Work First Foundation, Mr. Cove has shared his knowledge and expertise with a larger community, influencing policy makers internationally that his belief that private-sector efforts must be tapped by government to solve social problems. In a unique arrangement with states and cities, America Works and the Work First Foundation, are paid only if they deliver underserved populations into employment and self-sufficiency. America Works and the Work First Foundation are the only for profit and not for profit entities in the country doing this today and have removed thousands from welfare rolls and reintegrated hundreds of underserved populations, as productive members of communities.

In leading both America Works and the Work First Foundation to success, Mr. Cove has fully developed the concept of the privatization of welfare-to-work programs and has become the spokesperson and business developer for this, and other causes devoted to the underserved. Mr. Cove has appeared on national television and has been quoted in major newspapers, business and public affairs publications. He has testified on aspects of unemployment before Congressional committees in the House and Senate.

In 1995 The Entrepreneur of The Year Institute gave Mr. Cove its distinguished Socially Responsible Entrepreneur of The Year award for his achievements with America Works. Born in 1940, Mr. Cove holds a BA in sociology from Northeastern University. He is married to Dr. Lee Bowes, Chief Executive Officer of America Works. Mr. Cove is the father of five children. He lives in New York City.

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