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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: December 1, 2022 Contact: Ruby Schneider
[email protected], 734-585-6714
Washtenaw County Justice Partners Award $450,000 in Grant Funding to Washtenaw County Based Organizations Providing Re-entry Services for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
Funding to Provide Mentorship, Housing Assistance, and Workforce Development to Reduce Recidivism In Washtenaw County.
Ann Arbor, MI – The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office—in partnership with State Senator Jeff Irwin, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office—today announced that it will be awarding $450,000 in grant funding to four Washtenaw County-based nonprofit organizations to provide re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals, and help address recidivism in Washtenaw County. The four awarded organizations are Washtenaw Literacy, A Brighter Way, Avalon Housing, and We The People Opportunity Farm.
The funding was received by the Prosecutor’s Office through an Enhancement Grant from the State of Michigan to build out and improve the resources available to formerly incarcerated individuals in Washtenaw County. State Senator Jeff Irwin and Kathy Wyatt of the Washtenaw Sheriff’s Office were instrumental in securing funding from the state Legislature.
"It's an honor to work with Prosecutor Savit and Sheriff Clayton on improving re-entry services in our community,” said Senator Jeff Irwin. “Helping people get on track and stay on track reduces crime, restores families, and fights the cycle of recidivism and mass incarceration. I hope this work will be a model for communities across Michigan."
The need for additional funds to provide mentorship, housing, and workforce development was identified in the Washtenaw County Re-entry Committee. That committee is co-chaired by Prosecutor Eli Savit and Public Defender Delphia Simpson, who serve alongside a large committee of community experts working to reduce recidivism amongst returning citizens.
Representatives from the Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the Sheriff’s Office sat on the allocation committee, which awarded the grant.
“We are grateful to Senator Irwin and his Office for their help in securing funding for re-entry programming in Washtenaw County,” said Kathy Wyatt, Executive Analyst/Assistant to the Sheriff. “Our Community Re-entry Committee under the auspices of the Prosecutor’s and Public Defender’s Office works with MDOC Offender Success, Sheriff’s Office Re-entry and our community partners to help people who have been incarcerated in prison or jail overcome their challenges and live successful contributing lives. When we work together to help other members of our community turn their lives around, we also positively impact their families and make our whole community stronger and safer.”
With awarded funds, Washtenaw Literacy, which provides free literacy support to adults, will expand their program by hiring a volunteer coordinator. This coordinator will support volunteers partnering with returning citizens as they navigate the unique literacy-based barriers (including digital literacy) experienced during reentry. Language tutoring will support participating returning citizens in becoming workforce ready.
A Brighter Way, founded in 2016 by individuals with lived carceral experience, will be using their grant to expand their mentoring program which engages with individuals prior to their release from prison, and supports them in their reentry to the community. A Brighter Way has served 36 returning citizens since 2021, none of whom re-offended. Funding will allow A Brighter Way to serve 50 additional returning citizens—connecting them to housing, employment, transportation, and educational opportunities as they reintegrate into society.
We the People Opportunity Farm, which employs and provides workforce development for formerly incarcerated people through farming and community engagement, will use their funding to expand their internship and food distribution programs to serve both returning citizens, and the community that is welcoming them home.
Avalon Housing, the County’s largest supportive housing provider, will be receiving funding to provide direct assistance to returning citizens seeking housing. This includes covering direct rental assistance, application fees, security deposits, and other emergency expenses. This funding will help address the housing barriers experienced by returning citizens.
“I would like to congratulate the recipients of the grant,” said Washtenaw County Public Defender Delphia Simpson. “Each grant recipient was selected based on their ability to meet the critical needs of formerly incarcerated individuals transitioning back in the community. These organizations offering a helping hand by smoothing the journey for individuals returning to productive lives after incarceration. A community dedicated to assisting returning citizens to lay a foundation of success strengthens all of us.”
“We’re thrilled to support community organizations that assist formerly incarcerated individuals,” said Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit. “It’s crucial work. Setting people up for success allows families to thrives. It bolsters public safety, and reduces recidivism. I’m so grateful that we have such wonderful organizations in our county doing this work on the ground.”