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SITE LANGUAGE

Redefining Re-Entry with the Detroit Financial Well-being Innovation Challenge

 Over thirty individuals participated in Community Input Sessions and Focus Groups this Spring 2023 to steer the work of Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Wayne Metro) and its partners. The feedback helped the agency plan its project for the United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Detroit Financial Well-being Innovation Challenge. How could Wayne Metro and its partners improve services for people with past convictions?  

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Detroit Financial Well-being Innovation Challenge provides seed funding and technical assistance to test and refine these ideas over several years, with active community involvement along the way. The challenge prioritizes ideas that create change at a structural or systemic level so that Detroiters can thrive succeed financially. Grant funds from the United Way for Southeastern Michigan made this work possible. https://unitedwaysem.org/get-help/community-resources/detroit-financial-well-being-innovation-challenge/ 

 

Challenge accepted! The agency and its partners chose to work on improving services for people with past convictions, Redefining Re-Entry. The highest density of poverty in Detroit is in the same 13 zip codes as the highest density of people on parole in Michigan.1 

Main partners with Wayne Metro in this challenge have been the City of Detroit, which supports Wayne Metro’s Financial Empowerment Center; Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), which provided guidance and staff training; and S+D PJ Housing, which supports women and their whole community with overcoming the impacts of the justice system. E.B. Jordan, founder and Executive Director of S+D PJ Housing has cultivated a community approach to meeting the diverse needs of women leaving the Huron Valley State Prison. ceoworks.org; pjhousing.org 

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Main partners with Wayne Metro in this challenge have been the City of Detroit, which supports Wayne Metro’s Financial Empowerment Center; Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), which provided guidance and staff training; and S+D PJ Housing, which supports women and their whole community with overcoming the impacts of the justice system. E.B. Jordan, founder and Executive Director of S+D PJ Housing has cultivated a community approach to meeting the diverse needs of women leaving the Huron Valley State Prison. ceoworks.org; pjhousing.org 

The project partners shared the community’s input at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s event showcase at which over 60 community-based organizations, challenge project stewards, and Detroit-based foundations came together. The event on April 28 at the Durfee Innovation Center in Detroit culminated the Planning Stage of the Challenge. 

Since starting the Challenge in 2022, the project led by Wayne Metro has:

  • Connected with numerous, dynamic, dedicated leaders on efforts to improve services. For example, listened to people who had experienced incarceration as well as Regional Advisory Council members and other community partners.  
  • Identified housing, personal documents, life skills like digital and financial literacy, income support plus peer and community supports including mental health are primary needs 
  • Affirmed Needs are different for different people, so services need to be person-centered 
  • Expanded coordination with both Michigan Department of Labor and Department of Corrections (DoC) through staff working on re-entry and employment. For example, our Center for Working Families (CWF) staff provided a resume workshop for participants of a DoC Workforce Development Specialist plus gave an overview of Wayne Metro’s income support and other basic needs services. 
  • Began participant referral process between the agency’s Financial Empowerment Center with Wayne State’s Educational Transition Coordination Program, which assists people with past convictions to continue with their post-secondary education. 
  • Improved inclusion of people with past convictions in our workforce development programs in high demand jobs of weatherization contractors. 

 

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Looking ahead, the project partners plan to continue efforts at the system, agency and individual levels.  

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