Women’s Resource Center Awarded $200,000 Grant by Michigan Justice Fund

Program Expansion Seeks to Reduce Recidivism of Female Offenders in Muskegon and Ottawa Counties

(Grand Rapids, MI)- Women’s Resource Center (WRC) announced a $200,000 grant award from the Michigan Justice Fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The grant will provide an expansion of the jail-based New Beginnings program to Muskegon and Ottawa county correctional facilities. The program’s purpose is to reduce recidivism, provide equitable service access for female offenders, and increase the economic self-sufficiency of women returning to the community after incarceration.

According to The Sentencing Project, over the past 25 years, more women have become involved in the criminal justice system due to increased law enforcement efforts, harsher drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women. In fact, the number of incarcerated women increased by more than 700% between 1980 and 2019 and African American women are imprisoned at a rate 1.7 times higher than white women.

“By providing women with criminal histories with the skills and support needed to obtain meaningful employment with livable wages, we are helping to create more equitable communities,” said Women’s Resource Center CEO, Sandra Gaddy.

Due to the success demonstrated in Kent County with WRC’s New Beginnings program, this grant funding will allow WRC to replicate this program in Muskegon and Ottawa counties. Modeling how the program operates in Kent County, New Beginnings services in Muskegon and Ottawa counties will begin pre-release, up to 90 days prior to women returning to the community, and may continue for up to 18 months post-release.

“The New Beginnings program reduces the risk factors for re-offending and is an important crime prevention tool, it restores hope and self-confidence for the women it serves. I have personally seen women grow stronger and empowered through their own work within this program,” commented Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young.

Program services will include one-on-one and group mentoring, employability assessments coupled with individual career development plans, career and life skills workshops, job placement, and job retention support. WRC will also provide case management services to connect returning women with community partners for substance abuse and mental health treatment, education/training, housing and basic needs, and other services critical to their successful community reentry.

Since 1973, Women’s Resource Center has been empowering and equipping women to achieve financial stability through meaningful employment. Our gender responsive programs and services help women discover their strengths and talents while overcoming barriers to employment and economic independence. WRC serves over 600 women a year. For more information, visit www.grwrc.org.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development, and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $1.2 billion through more than 79,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties. For more information, visit www.cfsem.org.