DOL grants for prison re-entry

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is accepting applications for $65 million in grants to help soon-to-be-released inmates transition back into communities through an array of services, including education and job training. Community colleges may apply.

The Pathway Home grants will provide workforce services to eligible incarcerated individuals prior to release from a correctional facility and continue when they are released, according to DOL. The pilot program serves adults ages 18 and older who will leave a state correctional facility or county or local jail within 20 to 180 days of enrollment into the program.

Pre-release services must include job preparation and developing individual development plans (IDPs), such as identifying barriers to employment, career exploration and planning, counseling and linking inmates to social services that will help them transition back into their communities. 

Post-release activities must include skill-building services, including apprenticeships and occupational training for in-demand industries that lead to industry-recognized credentials, according to DOL.  But there may be some restrictions. For example, applicants must ensure that no state, local or other laws would prohibit certain inmates with criminal records from participating in the training.

“We know that 95 percent of everyone currently in prison will be released at some point back into our neighborhoods and communities,” John Pallasch, DOL’s assistant secretary of employment and training, said in a press release. “Reducing recidivism is tied to a meaningful job. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) recognizes the dignity of work, especially for the forgotten men and women of America.”

ETA plans to award about 17 grants of up to $4 million each. Applications are due April 15.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.