Human Resources and Nonprofits

Nonprofit wins grant for incarcerated women

July 9, 2015
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Nonprofit wins grant for incarcerated women
A team of mentors with the Women’s Resource Center New Beginnings program for incarcerated women pose for a shot: Niesa Nelson, left, Laura Mosley, Barb Thomas and Alice Lamar. Courtesy Grand Rapids Community Foundation

A nonprofit has won a grant to help give incarcerated women at Kent County Jail an opportunity to succeed.

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation said yesterday that it has approved a $52,000 grant for the Women’s Resource Center in Grand Rapids, or WRC, an organization that uses professional and trained volunteers to mentor people on how to secure and sustain jobs.

The money will go toward funding the center’s New Beginnings program, which helps incarcerated women at Kent County Jail through gender-responsive mentoring services and employment-development plans. 

Less than 20 percent of people in the New Beginnings program experience re-arrests upon release into the community and less than 10 percent are re-convicted, said Sharon Caldwell-Newton, executive director, WRC.

“We appreciate Grand Rapids Community Foundation for recognizing the return on investment of the New Beginnings program to West Michigan,” Caldwell-Newton said.

WRC matches New Beginnings’ participants who Kent County Jail staff have identified as “high risk or high need” with WRC mentors who help the incarcerated women prepare a re-entry plan before they re-enter the community, reducing the women’s recidivism rate.

Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, said that the Women’s Resource Center has been “a champion in supporting women of all walks of life to obtain meaningful employment” for more than 40 years.

Sieger added that through the New Beginnings program, “incarcerated women are substantially transforming their lives and making meaningful contributions upon re-entry.”

“Their successful re-entry is good for them, their families, taxpayers and our entire community,” she said.

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