RMCEP’s Restoring Connections Grant Program: A Fresh Start for Justice-Involved Individuals

RMCEP’s Restoring Connections Grant Program: A Fresh Start for Justice-Involved Individuals Main Photo

24 Jul 2023


Rural Minnesota CEP (RMCEP) has introduced a competitive grant program, “Restoring Connections,” which will help justice-involved MN residents rejoin the workforce. Through programming and training services, RMCEP will create opportunities for participants to secure employment and support regional industries. 

RMCEP will serve 38 participants through the program. The program’s eligibility requirements assure that resources are provided to applicants who are at a crucial point in their workforce re-entry process. To be eligible for the grant program, applicants must be a Minnesota resident; have not worked or been employed for 15 weeks throughout the last year; and be within six months of release or have been released in the previous six months from specified correctional facilities in Minnesota. By enforcing these eligibility guidelines, RMCEP will assist justice-involved individuals at a pivotal point in their careers. 

Restoring Connections Grant Program Benefits Everyone Involved

According to a nationwide study from the ACLU, 75% of formerly incarcerated individuals remain unemployed a year after release. The study also found that the inability to secure employment was the main predictor of recidivism. By the same token, employed individuals were twice as likely to have avoided arrest as their unemployed counterparts. Consequently, stable employment has been proven to make a significant difference in helping justice-involved citizens. 

Additionally, hiring justice-involved applicants has many economic benefits. At companies where fair chance policies were in place, retention rates were higher and turnover was lower, reducing recruitment costs. Several businesses also reported measurable reductions in regional incarceration costs as a direct result of hiring justice-involved citizens. As a result, ensuring the employment of justice-involved individuals uniquely benefits employers and local economies. Through the Restoring Connections Grant Program, RMCEP will strengthen the lives of justice-involved people, and benefit businesses throughout the region. 

Program Services and Details

By providing intensive wrap-around services to program participants, RMCEP can help workers shape their careers for a new start. Participants will receive one-on-one career counseling and case management, job search assistance, skills training, and support services. The program’s specific services include:

  • Pre-vocational services
  • Work readiness services  
  • Non-credentialed training
  • Classroom training that results in a credential 
  • On-the-Job training (OJT)

To further encourage the success of participants, Restoring Connections (RC) Navigators will develop and maintain relationships with employers that commit to hiring justice-involved individuals through “fresh start” employment. In turn, employers will have access to employees who are specialized, and ready to join their workforce. 

RMCEP Offers Employment Solutions for All 

RMCEP’s Restoring Connections program will help justice-involved citizens re-enter the workforce, provide employers with a specialized workforce, and positively impact rural Minnesota’s regional economy. Through the Restoring Connections program, RMCEP continues to demonstrate its commitment to providing solutions for people, employers, and communities. To learn more about RMCEP’s additional workforce resources, click here.