Wednesday, June 30, 2021

City of Austin Announces Re-entry Grants to Support People Who Have Been Incarcerated

Applications Accepted through July 23

The City of Austin's Equity Office is accepting applications from the community for Re-entry Services Grant funding to improve opportunities and resources for people who were formerly incarcerated.

Systemic barriers prevent individuals with a criminal record from accessing stable housing, jobs, transportation, and health care. The grant program seeks to improve outcomes for individuals re-entering society through a more human-centered re-entry process.

A total of $400,000 will be distributed through two programs:
  • Hub Funding - One award will be made for $200,000 to serve as a "hub" or one-stop-shop where the re-entry community can receive services necessary to assist them in reaching stability. The goal of this award is to fund an organization to provide wrap-around, holistic services to individuals who are working to achieve stability after incarceration.
  • Spoke Funding – Awards of up to $50,000 will be disbursed for entities that can provide component services in new and innovative ways.  Examples include but are not limited to housing, mental and physical care, financial assistance, job and skills training and food access.
Applicants are encouraged to apply online.  Awards will be announced by the end of September.

"The obstacles that prevent someone from returning from incarceration and achieving stability are systemic in nature," said Chief Equity Officer Brion Oaks. "What we seek to accomplish through these grants is to examine who is most impacted by barriers and begin to address them on both an individual and systemic level."  

Oaks added that to improve outcomes, interventions cannot focus solely on solving the "housing" or the "health" or the "economic" impacts on people who have a criminal record but work holistically to serve individuals and their specific needs.

To help understand the needs and craft the scope of work of the grants, the Equity Office partnered with local organizations grounded in Austin's re-entry community to host focus groups and engage with people who were formerly incarcerated. Findings revealed that although several organizations are doing positive work, more resources and creative approaches are needed.

"In funding organizations grounded in the expertise and experience of those most impacted, the City hopes to learn what we need to change within our own programs and services. In making these changes, we seek to go from just funding services, to partnering in transforming outcomes for individuals," Oaks said.

City of Austin Equity Office
The City of Austin Equity Office works to achieve a vision of Austin in which race, orientation, or gender do not predict a person's outcomes. Our work centers on normalizing conversations around race and systemic inequity, organizing among City staff and community members to advance equity, and operationalizing the principles of equity across all the City's programs and services.