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New opportunities for work, education help break cycles of recidivism

August 30, 2018

Reentering the community after incarceration can be a difficult process that is unsuccessful all too often for millions of women and men across the United States. Successful reentry depends on the services and support available to these individuals and a multifaceted approach for all areas of a person’s life.

man cementing wallOne of the groups most vulnerable to recidivism is young women and men of color between the ages of 18 to 24 years old. FHI 360, through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, saw this need and developed a plan to break the cycle of incarceration for young women and men through professional education and workforce development.

Along with Our Piece of the Pie in Hartford, Connecticut, the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment in St. Louis, Missouri, and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department, FHI 360 leads the Compass Rose Collaborative, which was launched in 2017.

Participants are recruited from neighborhoods in the partner cities that have crime and poverty rates exceeding 30 percent. Once recruited, participants work with staff from the partner organizations to find employment and education opportunities as well as help with their criminal justice issues. Four approaches encourage successful reentry: 1) support services, such as housing, clothing, food, transportation and counseling; 2) legal services; 3) work readiness, development and job placement; and 4) educational services.

The goals of the collaborative are to ensure that participants are self-sufficient with secure jobs, positive social habits and skills needed to navigate adulthood; to create and maintain successful community partnerships; and to establish project practices that are effective, well-documented and able to be replicated.

FHI 360 staff and its partner organizations measure success in several ways. So far, the project has served more than 200 young people and plans to serve more than 500 people by 2020. At the end of the three-year project, the partners aim for 70 percent of participants to be placed in education or employment, 65 percent of participants to have attained a professional degree or certificate and 40 percent to have demonstrated gains in literacy and numerical skills.

By 2020, the Compass Rose Collaborative plans to have 40 employers committed to supporting the next phase of the project, to add several new resources to the Department of Labor’s workforce database and to have five new communities, in addition to the ones already served, adopt the collaborative’s practices.

Photo credit: Juan Romero/City of Los Angeles