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$5 Million Prisoner Re-entry Initiative for New Jersey and Newark

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The United States Department of Labor, State of New Jersey, and City of Newark announced a $5 million grant to help provide jobs and support to hundreds of Newark residents returning home from prison over the next two years.

The grant includes $2 million in matching funds from the Bodman–Achelis Foundations, Joan Ganz Cooney, the Charles Edison Fund/Edison Innovation Foundation, the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Nicholson Foundation, and the Victoria Foundation.

“The City can’t do this alone. It takes strategic alliances with federal and state officials, community and faith-based organizations, and the leveraging arm of the philanthropic institutions,” said Mayor Cory Booker. “We established the office of the philanthropic liaison, underwritten by the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, to help create stronger connections with funders. The matching grants from the private sector show that these efforts are working.”

“The foundation community is delighted to partner with strong government leadership and the city’s philanthropic liaison in addressing the challenges faced by the growing numbers of men and women re-entering society,” said William H. Byrnes, Jr., program officer with the F.M. Kirby Foundation and trustee of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers.

Over the past three years, the United States Department of Labor has been the lead agency for implementing the federal government’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative. “This grant will enable Newark to build on the success of the President’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative and provide over 1,200 ex-offenders with basic job skills and other assistance to help them succeed in developing new career paths,”  said U.S. Secretary of Labor, Eliane L. Chao.

The combined $5 million award will enable the City to strengthen and expand services via a network of partners working through a one-stop center, Opportunity Reconnect, at Essex County College.

The goal of the grant is keep people working, help employers find workers, and keep families safe by successfully integrating ex-prisoners back into their communities through a comprehensive system of services including case management, mentoring, skills assessment, and referrals to health care providers. 

State and local agencies will be coordinated to strengthen the city’s network and avoid duplication of efforts.

“We’ve managed to make funders more aware of the barriers that prevent ex-prisoners from being successful," said Jeremy Johnson, Newark’s philanthropic liaison. "Grantmakers have become increasingly involved as a result.”

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