Project Return is an employment-boosting nonprofit organization in Nashville, Tennessee, focused on persons who are returning to the community from incarceration. Situated in a metropolitan county with four state-run penitentiaries, one private prison, two local detention centers, and a federal halfway house, and located in a southern state where more than 5,000 ex-offenders emerge annually from state or federal incarceration facilities, Project Return is poised to expand its reach and impact.
Project Return provides job readiness training and job search assistance, complemented with holistic, wraparound case management, to people who are extremely motivated to get our help, overcome the odds, and gain employment. In the past year, Project Return provided reentry services to more than 2,500 ex-offenders. Significantly, over 80% of the nearly 500 persons who engaged in Project Return’s job readiness curriculum and individualized job coaching and case management obtained employment. Project Return connects on a daily basis with smart, responsible businesses in the metropolitan area who recognize the value of hiring motivated job applicants.
Project Return’s services are focused unswervingly on the plight of the person who has finished serving time and is forging a new beginning in our community. All of our programming, staff development, and strategic planning are deliberately geared to what it means to make a successful return as an ex-offender. We are uniquely situated at that fork in the road faced by persons emerging from prison, as they make choices that set them on the path away from recidivism and toward a crime-free future. In contrast to a re-incarceration rate nationwide that hovers around 50%, the recidivism rate was only 13.7% for former felony offenders who completed Project Return’s program in a recent 24-month period.
Project Return recently launched a social enterprise, in the form of a new transitional employment program, as an enhancement to our job readiness and employment placement work. This new entrepreneurial program will provide immediate, temporary employment to recently released ex-offenders during their most vulnerable time and when the threat of recidivism is highest, while at the same time preparing them to be permanently employed, productive members of the community.