Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $900,000)
FHI 360 and the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) have designed the Post-Release Employment Program (PREP) to support the successful reintegration of individuals returning from jails or prisons into their communities. To address the Category 2 Priority, we propose implementing PREP in Charlotte, NC—a city struggling with high poverty and high crime rates—through a strong partnership with community organizations and local employers. PREP features two prongs of evidence-based training: 1) NCIA’s job-readiness and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) certification trainings for incarcerated individuals; and 2) FHI 360’s virtual training designed to increase correctional staff capacity to provide trauma-informed care and better support participants in reaching their employment goals. PREP is uniquely designed to fast-track participants from being behind bars to being employed within six weeks or less. Two-thirds or more of their employment training will be completed pre-release. Post-release, PREP staff will work quickly with employer and community partners to meet participants’ needs and find job placements. This rapid employment is crucial to participants’ post-release success; the prevention of unemployment and poverty will greatly reduce recidivism. We selected to feature the CDL certification track based on a labor market assessment that showed high numbers of available jobs (as well as high wages of up to $30 per hour). PREP’s continual case management will support individuals in overcoming common post-release barriers—such as finding housing, obtaining healthcare/insurance, and clearing holds on drivers’ licenses—and will continue through job placement for one full year post-release. Throughout this time, we will track performance measures and benchmarks, as defined with BJA as part of our action plan, to monitor and improve the project. We will report these results in JustGrants as well as in a final project report. PREP’s combination of training, case management, community partnerships, second chance employer networks, job readiness, and justice expertise will propel participants into promising futures, while reducing recidivism and improving public safety.