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News Jul 20, 2011 - 10:05 PM

$55,000 in grants awarded for prison reentry

By City of New Haven

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Six New Haven-based community organizations have been awarded a total of $55,000 through the City of New Haven’s Reentry Mini Grants Prison Reentry Initiative to expand the services available to individuals reentering the New Haven community from incarceration. The Reentry Mini Grants are part of the Prison Reentry Initiative’s Community Empowerment Project, funded through a two-year federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Community Empowerment Project’s objective is to enhance public safety and empower under served neighborhoods by expanding
community-based services that offer individuals returning from
incarceration, as well as their families, the opportunity to enhance their own lives and the lives of their peers. In order to develop the targeted service areas, the Prison Reentry Initiative conducted research into reentry best practices and partnered with other community organizations through the New Haven Reentry Roundtable to conduct several focus groups of ex-offenders in the New Haven area. Based on this research, the Prison Reentry Initiative identified several areas of focus for the Community Empowerment Project: education, employment, family support, housing, mental health and addiction, and peer mentoring.

Six proposals from community organizations to expand reentry services in the focus areas were selected through a competitive process in
consultation with community stakeholders from the New Haven Reentry Roundtable. Grants ranged from $5,000 to $15,000. In total, the City of New Haven’s Prison Reentry Initiative was able to award $55,000 to various organizations.

Mayor DeStefano praised the Reentry Grant program, “The grants are an effective way to utilize city resources to further good in our community. They encourage innovative programs which help formerly incarcerated individuals make positive choices in the future.” A $15,000 grant was allocated to the Urban Resources Initiative to expand green job skills and transitional employment programs for formerly incarcerated individuals with substance abuse issues.

“Funding from the Reentry Mini-grant will allow URI to expand our
Greenskills program to hire additional formerly incarcerated individuals to plant trees,” explained Colleen Murphy-Dunning, Director of the Urban Resources Initiative. “This opportunity supports their return to their community in a very positive way."

$5,000 were given to Evergreen Family Oriented Tree to expand peer mentoring services, offer driver’s education and basic needs to formerly incarcerated men and women residing in sober housing in West River. The funding amounts to almost 15% of their annual budget.

Beulah Heights Social Integration Program was awarded $6,900 to offer formerly incarcerated individuals weekly mentoring and workshop sessions to help foster relationships with family and friends in the Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhoods.

An $8,100 grant was allocated to Emergency Shelter Management Services to provide education and mentoring sessions for formerly incarcerated men residing in the emergency shelter. The grant also would help fund meals and basic needs for participants.

$10,000 was granted to South Central Behavioral Health Network and Second Chance Sober House to develop weekly support groups, maintain the Sober House and expand capacity to provide accommodation, clothing, and transportation for men returning to New Haven from incarceration.

STRIVE-New Haven was also awarded $10,000 to expand capacity to provide employment training and job placement services to individuals released end-of-sentence from prison in New Haven. The funding would also help cover staffing costs, telephone bills and supplies.

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