U.S. Labor Department Funds LISC to Improve Employment Opportunities for Re-Entry Individuals in Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE, Oct. 2017 – LISC Rhode Island has awarded Amos House $476,000 to implement its Bridges to Career Opportunities (BCO) model, a comprehensive education and support program designed to provide tailored services to move people into employment. The new grant is part of $72 million in funding awarded to 32 organizations through the U.S. Labor Department’s Reentry Project, which is focused on evidence-based opportunities to reduce recidivism.
With this funding, Amos House will be able to expand its job training and education programs and integrate them with the Financial Opportunity Center offerings, a highly successful program developed by LISC that helps participants with job placement, financial coaching, and access to public benefits. Amos House will adapt the BCO model to address the specific needs and services necessary for individuals recently released from prison.
“As a result of this funding, Amos House will provide intensive wraparound supports related to barriers specific to the re-entry population,” said Jeanne Cola, Executive Director of LISC Rhode Island. “Participants will be able to complete the education and skills training components of the Bridges to Career Opportunities program and transition to employment.”
With a grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), LISC launched its Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) model nationally in 2010 and featured several sites in Rhode Island, including Amos House. FOCs provide clients with three integrated services: employment coaching, financial education and coaching, and assistance accessing income supports. This bundling of services helps clients make important behavioral changes about money and improve their financial outlook, while preparing them to succeed in the workplace. The model has been successful in helping clients see real improvements in net income, net worth, and credit scores. Additional SIF funding allowed LISC to then introduce the Bridges to Career Opportunities model, which incorporated contextualized educational services along with career training programs and provided opportunities for those FOC clients who needed to build additional foundational skills to successfully complete higher-level skills training and be more competitive in the job market.
“In addition to job training and education, providing services to help participants navigate legal and technical matters related to child support, fines, court, parole/probation, as well as help with transportation, housing barriers, and substance abuse, will translate into meaningful change for this vulnerable population,” said Cola.
Approximately 2.3% of adults in Rhode Island are on probation or parole, which as of 6/30/17 was 23,081 adults in the state, and there were 2,797 individuals released in 2017 . Of this number, about 5% of sentenced releases self-reported that they were homeless or had no permanent address. The Department of Corrections also reports that of the total prison population, 52% of men and 61% of women were unemployed at the time they were incarcerated. Additionally, of this 2017 population, 35% of incarcerated men and 25% of incarcerated women had less than a high school education, and 51% of men and 38% of women were re-sentenced within 36 months of release .
“We are very grateful to LISC,” said Eileen Hayes, President and CEO of Amos House. “This was a very competitive process and the funding will allow us to focus much more intensively on people entering our training programs and accessing FOC services within 6 months of being released from incarceration.”
Nationwide, there are more than 2.3 million people in prisons, jails and other detention facilities, with 650,000 released each year from prisons alone. Studies on recidivism done by the National Institute of Justice based in Washington D.C. indicate that nearly 77 percent are arrested again within five years.
The award is part of a larger grant from the U.S. Department of Labor which awarded $4.5 million in new funding for LISC Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) nationwide. The grant will extend the reach of LISC FOCs in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Providence that operate in communities with high rates of poverty, crime and reentry. Amos House is one of only seven organizations across the LISC footprint to receive these funds.
The FOCs are part of a broader LISC effort to expand economic opportunity for low income people. It dovetails with LISC’s community safety work that builds police community partnerships, supports data-driven strategies to take on crime hotspots, and integrates safety into broader programs on economic development, housing and jobs.
LISC Rhode Island — LISC Rhode Island equips communities with the capital, program strategy and know-how to become places where people can thrive. We combine corporate, government and philanthropic resources to provide catalytic growth throughout the state. Since 1991, LISC Rhode Island has invested more than $345 million in projects that has leveraged an additional $1.4 billion dollars of investment. We are working to forge communities of opportunity – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. For more, visit www.rilisc.org
 RI DOC 2017 Population Update: http://www.doc.ri.gov/administration/planning/docs/FY17%20Annual%20Population%20Report.pdf]
 RI DOC 2017 Population Update