An Opportunity for Second Chances Provides Hope for Reentering Citizens
Sarasota, FL—More often than not, finding stability in life after incarceration is a difficult task. The reality for many formerly incarcerated citizens trying to reintegrate into our community is one limited by barriers to stable housing, employment and social services—problems that dovetail with and exacerbate each other.
Local nonprofit Project 180 determined its greatest potential for turning lives around was through a comprehensive residential program, inspired by a San Francisco-based nonprofit that has been successfully reintegrating citizens for decades.
“Nationally, two-thirds of people returning from state prison are rearrested within three years of release,” says Barbara Richards, President and CEO of Project 180. “Such a high percentage reflects the difficulties people face upon reentry—difficulties that too often result in re-incarceration which leads to greater pressure on an already overburdened system. There was already a high-impact model that we knew worked in other communities, the challenge was bringing it to and modifying it for Sarasota.”
In 2018, the organization launched a pilot residential program to provide formerly incarcerated men up to two years of stable residency, food assistance, transportation, and financial assistance in restoring their driving privileges. Reviewed by a committee, all residents are formerly homeless men in active recovery. Those who have been referred by Drug Court have been diverted to the program instead of going to prison.
Now just a year in practice, the program’s success was recently noticed by Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. In April, Project 180 received a $230,000 grant to purchase the three-bedroom house for which the organization had been paying monthly rent. Part of the funding will go to establishing a maintenance endowment to ensure that future repairs can be made at no cost to the organization.
“Project 180 was already doing great work in rehabilitating these men,” says Teri A Hansen President | CEO of Barancik Foundation. “Our goal was to make sure this model became sustainable and allowed staff to attract additional supporters in the community to expand programming.”
Now with one house secured, the nonprofit seeks greater community support. As news of the residential program’s success spreads, more referrals are being made than ever before. However, with only a limited amount of beds, Project 180 is having to turn people away.
“Our next priority is to purchase an additional house to create a pipeline for current residents who are closer to transitioning into their own housing,” explains Richards.
The new developments don’t stop there. Project 180 hopes to open a future business training school to provide job skills training for residents who are struggling to get on their feet. Designed by and for formerly incarcerated individuals, the school has the potential to become an economic driver in the community.
“The residents of the San Francisco program generate $20 million annually through their business training schools,” says Richards. “It’s a strong indicator that individuals who are justice-involved can benefit their own communities if they are given a second chance, we just need the community to rally behind the cause.”
The nonprofit also boasts an annual lecture series that explores the impact of prisoner reentry upon the community. On May 10, keynote speaker Acting Secretary of the California Department of Corrections, Ralph M. Diaz will discuss California’s most innovative prison programs. Visit www.project180reentry.org to learn more.
About Project 180
Project 180 seeks to break the cycle of incarceration and recidivism by providing workforce education and financial literacy classes for inmates, an annual reentry lecture series for the general public, information and referrals for felons seeking housing, programs, and employment throughout Florida, and a comprehensive, whole-life Residential Program for formerly incarcerated men in recovery. Project 180 seeks to build community, not prisons. To learn more, please visit https://www.project180reentry.org/.
About Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation
The Charles and Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation—a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida. The Barancik Foundation creates initiatives and awards grants in Sarasota and beyond in the areas of education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment, and medical research. For more information, visit www.barancikfoundation.org.