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Re-Entry for Formerly Incarcerated Women

At A Glance

  • 1.9 M

    This is how many women are released from prisons and jails each year. They receive no job training or economic support.

  • 80%

    Of women in jails are mothers, and most of them are primary caretakers of their children.

  • 27%

    Of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed. It's an unemployment rate that's worse than the Great Depression.

Today, when women exit the U.S. prison system, they’re forgotten and abandoned. They don't have jobs lined up. No savings. No roof over their heads. No money for groceries to feed their children or pay their utility bills.

“Well, it's striking to me how we can spend $75,000 a year to lock a woman like me up, and then we send her back to the community with $200, no ID, no Social Security card, nowhere to live, and expect her to make it. It's impossible," said Susan Burton of A New Way of Life, a grantee partner also featured in The Future Is Hers.

What women reentering their communities need desperately is economic security—finding employment that pays a living wage and utilizing tools for asset-building. Cal Wellness’s Re-Entry and Employment Initiative aims to ensure that formerly incarcerated women of color, especially African American and Latina women, achieve health through financial well-being, including through increased participation in the workforce (finding jobs that pay a living wage) and building financial assets (acquiring financial planning skills and learning how to build wealth).

WORCC Prop 47 Collaborative

We awarded grants to four organizations tackling criminal justice reform to mobilize for local and statewide policy opportunities, but with a gender lens. In particular, our grantees focused on the effective implementation of Proposition 47 and the specific challenges facing women who are reentering. Our grantees established the Women Organizing Re-entry Communities of Color for Prop 47 (WORCC) Collaborative to target Prop 47 resources to benefit women of color as they seek employment and financial well-being upon re-entry. These organizations are A New Way of LifeJustice NowTime for Change Foundation and The Praxis Project in partnership with the Center for Collaborative Planning.

Re-Entry, Workforce And Asset Building Demonstration Projects

We are supporting three demonstration projects as part of the Re-Entry Women Initiative. Our grantees are engaging formerly incarcerated women of color, especially Black and Latina women, in comprehensive workforce development services including job training, career advancement and asset-building. The Center for Employment Opportunities is providing technical assistance. The demonstration project grantees also promote and advocate for systems and policy change. Such change is desperately needed if formerly incarcerated women of color are to become economically self-sufficient, in the short and the long term. Our incredible grantees are Root & Rebound in Fresno County, A New Way of Life in Los Angeles County and Time for Change Foundation in San Bernardino County. 


We awarded a grant to the National Black Women’s Justice Institute to work in partnership with two other organizations to evaluate the women's initiatives. Among other things, the evaluation will assess the initiatives’ effectiveness and scalability; uplift best practices; and identify areas of intersection (race, gender, sexuality, ability, health status, conviction status, etc.) for future collaboration. The evaluation team will use a unique, responsive framework to evaluate the projects. Because this is participatory research, the evaluators will partner with the demonstration project grantees to determine the evaluation questions as well as adjustments to the work as it proceeds.

The report will be prepared once the work has concluded. Until then, sign up for our e-newsletter below to stay informed.

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