Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $900,000)
Project Return (PR), a nonprofit headquartered in the target area of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee (TN), seeks to provide more successful new beginnings through employment services and connections for at least 300 men and women returning from Tennessee prisons to the Greater Nashville community.
Tennessee is 23rd in the U.S. for incarceration, and one of eight states with the highest incarceration rates in their history. Annually, thousands of individuals are released from TN prisons, and most return to TN’s urban areas. High imprisonment numbers, coupled with a concentration of correctional facilities in the Nashville area as well as a lack of reentry assistance, creates constant high demand for PR’s services.
PR leverages a multitude of partnerships, and facilitates connections at pre-release with partner services in conjunction with PR’s services, which gives residents time to prepare for successful reentry. Post-release, with award-winning business development methods, PR is successful in connecting participants with both transitional and long-term employment opportunities.
Through employment-creating social enterprises (ESEs), Project Return offers transitional services to participants after prison. PROe is a high-quality staffing company, and PROPS is a property services company; both are career training programs for people after prison. With PROe, PR contracts with regional companies – primarily in the manufacturing and construction sectors – to meet their workforce needs, and we staff their sites with our motivated, supported, transitional employees. With PROPS, PR musters dedicated, supervised crews – again, by transitionally hiring our participants – to provide commercial cleaning, landscaping, and property make-ready services to corporate and nonprofit customers. Our participants gain income, skills, experience, and the opportunity to create proof of concept for themselves as worthwhile employees.
PR addresses BJA’s priority focus of addressing racial injustice and disparities that continue to negatively impact minorities. African Americans comprise 17% of the Tennessee population but are incarcerated at nearly 2.5X that rate in Tennessee’s prisons; PR’s client population reflects that racial disproportionality. PR delivers racially equitable and accessible programs that remove barriers and engender reentry success.
Grant funding is proposed for subsidized wages of PR’s transitional employees who work in PR’s employment-creating social enterprises, and help meet the following goals: PR will provide Job Readiness to more than 400 adults incarcerated in prisons and jails, as well as subsidized and Transitional Employment through PR’s Social Enterprises upon return to the community. PR will begin Job Skills Assessment/Training Services prior to release and continue throughout participants’ period of reentry.