Fed pledges millions to prisoner reentry progrm

George T. McDonald, founder and president of The Doe Fund – the nationally recognized provider of human services, with an annual operating budget of $50 million – recentlyn announced that the U.S. Department of Labor is funding a massive $5.6 million expansion of the innovative prisoner reentry work pioneered by the organization’s Ready, Willing & Able program.

The Doe Fund was one of only seven awardees, chosen from hundreds nationwide after a rigorous two-phase process, to provide job training, paid transitional work, comprehensive support, and career placement to new parolees – the majority of whom are also non-custodial fathers – under the Department’s Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) program.

The ETJD program’s goal is to cut criminal recidivism in half among participants. The Department of Labor also will analyze and identify which transitional work programs are the most effective at successfully reintegrating recent parolees into the workforce. Ultimately, these successful program models will be presented for nationwide replication.

“After twenty years of helping thousands of new parolees through Ready, Willing & Able, we can say with authority that nothing stops recidivism like a job,” said George T. McDonald. “Studies have shown that a period of paid transitional work is absolutely crucial to them not only obtaining – but maintaining – full-time, quality employment. That’s the core of Ready, Willing & Able, and it helps these men re-learn healthy work habits while they begin to give back to their communities,” he added.

Founded in 1990, The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program now serves 700 people every day in New York and Philadelphia and is best known for the “men in blue,” who can be seen cleaning 150 miles of New York City’s streets, as well as Philadelphia’s parks and commercial corridors. This paid transitional work is the first step they take in the program, and is accompanied by comprehensive support, drug testing and relapse prevention, advanced occupational training, and career placement. Participants graduate with full-time, permanent employment, their own housing, and their sobriety, rejoining their communities as role models and their families as responsible parents.

The collaboration with the Department of Labor will fund an additional 500 Ready, Willing & Able program slots in New York City, and will include a rigorous evaluation conducted by MDRC, the renowned social policy research organization. Another evaluation of Ready, Willing & Able, completed in 2010 by Harvard University’s leading criminal justice expert, Dr. Bruce Western, found that the program reduces recidivism by up to 60%.

About The Doe Fund

Participants of The Doe Fund’s flagship Ready, Willing & Able program – known by residents of New York and Philadelphia as the “men in blue” – can be seen each day in their signature bright-blue uniforms cleaning 150 miles of New York City streets and sidewalks, as well as Philadelphia’s parks and commercial corridors. They are paid above the minimum wage for this transitional employment that represents the heart of Ready, Willing & Able, and is accompanied by a comprehensive service and training package.

To date, more than 4,500 individuals have graduated from the program with full-time, permanent employment, independent housing, and their sobriety, becoming role models in their communities and responsible fathers to their children. To learn more about The Doe Fund, please visit www.doe.org.

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