Grand Rapids Community Foundation today announced a $52,000 grant to the Women’s Resource Center (WRC). The grant will support WRC’s New Beginnings program; a service that provides incarcerated women at Kent County Jail with gender-responsive mentoring services and individual employment development plans.
The result of the New Beginnings program is a significantly reduced recidivism rate of the target population, which according to the Kent County Office Community Corrections is currently 71 percent for medium-high risk females.
“Less than 20 percent of participants in our New Beginnings program experience re-arrests upon release into the community and less than 10 percent are re-convicted,” said Sharon Caldwell-Newton, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center. “We appreciate Grand Rapids Community Foundation for recognizing the return on investment of the New Beginnings program to West Michigan.”
As part of the New Beginnings program, WRC matches participants who have been identified by the Kent County Jail staff as high-risk or high-need with volunteer mentors who are recruited, trained and supervised by WRC. The staff and volunteers begin to build relationships and work with incarcerated women to create an individualized re-entry plan before they are released from jail.
The reduced recidivism rate has a positive impact on the participants and their children. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, children with an incarcerated parent are more likely to spend time in jail than they are to graduate high school and are seven times more likely to be imprisoned themselves.
“For more than 40 years, the Women’s Resource Center has been a champion in supporting women of all walks of life to obtain meaningful employment,” said Diana Sieger, president of Grand Rapids Community Foundation. "Through the New Beginnings program, incarcerated women are substantially transforming their lives and making meaningful contributions upon reentry. Their successful reentry is good for them, their families, taxpayers and our entire community.”