Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $900,000)
The United States is the world's leader in incarceration. There are 2 million people in the nation's prisons and jails—a 500% increase over the last 40 years. Ohio houses nearly 45,000 individuals who recidivate at a rate of over 35%. Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) is committed to ending recidivism for incarcerated individuals in Ohio through the expansion of workforce development programming. Research shows that employment opportunities have a significant and positive impact on reducing recidivism. LMM has a strong history of working with the reentry community, including our nationally recognized Chopping for Change (C4C) program. C4C is a workforce development opportunity that enables participates to engage in culinary arts and hospitality training five days a week, with counseling and other support services to help the participants overcome personal challenges that may limit their success. Participants incarcerated at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) facilities in Cleveland and Grafton, Ohio will have the opportunity to engage in programs and services that will enable them to return home equipped with valuable personal and professional skills, position them for successful entry into the workforce, and empower them to avoid recidivism. C4C is one of only a few programs in Ohio that takes inmates out of prison and into civilian custody for employment training. Participants in LMM’s C4C program have less than a 4% recidivism rate.
Focusing on completion, placement, licensure, and reduced recidivism, C4C will have a lasting and profound impact on participants returning to Northeast Ohio by providing viable and sustainable pathways to rehabilitation. Completion will directly connect to formalized educational outcomes including certificates, diplomas, and degrees. Placement translates directly to sustainable living wage employment. Licensure provides a third-party validation of the scope and value of services. Finally, Recidivism is the essential outcome to dramatically underscore the power of quality therapeutic and vocational programing to influence future behaviors to a higher percentage of positive outcomes.