Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $900,000)
Ohio is one of eight states with the highest incarceration rates, and northeast Ohio (the target area for this grant) is ripe for connecting justice impacted individuals with higher education providers and employers to build bridges and create more opportunities to proactively develop a robust talent pipeline for successful reentry (Team Northeast Ohio, 2022). Kent State University, an institution with the mission to transform lives by providing access and opportunity and foster diverse and inclusive communities, proposes the Kent State University Prison Reentry Program with the purpose of developing comprehensive educationally and employment-based reentry services for all, targeting moderate to high-level risk justice impacted individuals in the Trumbull Correctional Institution for successful reentry into Northeastern Ohio communities.
Transitional and reentry program activities will support participants’ basic needs, education and skill-building services, career exploration and planning, employability skills preparation, internships, and permanent employment. This will include designing a program-specific reentry college microcredential, implementing evidence-based services, growing partnerships with like-minded northeastern Ohio second chance employers, establishing a prison reentry advisory board, and tracking and monitoring educational and employment outcomes. Targeting criminogenic needs will be based on the risk-need-responsivity model. Programming will utilize cognitive behavioral approaches to produce and reinforce new thinking and behaviors. The intended outcomes are the successful reintegration of participants and promotion of racial equity in reentry communities, increase of educational attainment and employment with a sustainable wage, and reduction of recidivism for justice impacted individuals, the project's intended beneficiaries.
The program evaluation staff, will incorporate ongoing research on job training opportunities with the support of an advisory council to assess in-demand job needs. Postrelease, the reentry staff will conduct individualized and small group reentry career and employment planning with expertise from Kent State’s Career Exploration and Development Center and monitor employment outcomes. The project upports equitable access to services and opportunities in reentry communities through partnerships with organizations that primarily serve historically marginalized and underserved groups such as Oriana House, a reentry community corrections organization that serves over 3,000 individuals. Like-minded community stakeholders will serve as advisory committee members, outreach will be tailored to historically underserved and marginalized groups to encourage program participation, and individual touch points with reentering justice impacted individuals will be initiated to assess services and garner feedback.