Hope of Buffalo, Inc. dba: Peaceprints of WNY

Community organization name

Hope of Buffalo, Inc. dba: Peaceprints of WNY

Organization's website

www.peaceprintswny.org

Tell us a little more about this organization. Please include detailed ways in which this organization makes strides to make a positive impact in their community and what future goals are for this organization.

As a nationally recognized leader in reentry services, Peaceprints of WNY leverages its expertise, passion for justice and innovative programming to empower individuals and communities and advocate for equitable opportunities. Peaceprints offers a wide range of personalized services, programs, and resources designed to meet each individual where they are on their transformation. Services include but aren’t limited to transitional & supportive housing, adult & youth pre and post release reentry programs, mentoring & advocacy programs, as well as a community food pantry. The most notable impact the agency has had on the community is through its Project Blue local reentry program. This innovative pilot program has served over 300 incarcerated individuals since its implementation three years ago with an astonishing 10% recidivism rate (as compared to 81% for those in general population). Their holistic, yet realistic approach to service delivery sets them apart from other industry providers. Over the years, the JMD has sought to change the culture among employees as well as the way in which the agency is perceived by the community. Project Blue has greatly assisted in accomplishing that goal by ensuring that JMD security personnel were actively engaged in the program. Utilizing a sworn deputy as a “Community Reintegration Officer,” incarcerated individuals were able to view JMD staff in a different way, begrudgingly acknowledging the idea that there are those within the division that are invested in their success, and that the agency as a whole felt the same. Beyond initial screening and assessment responsibilities, this CRO plays an active role in case management and the delivery of programming to enrolled clients. Project Blue and the partnership between Peaceprints and the ECSO has drawn positive attention from government leaders, community providers and the news media which has helped the ECSO begin to realize their goal of culture change. In addition to putting the ECSO on the map with the nationally recognized program above, Peaceprints of WNY has become a friend to the ECSO, serving as our strongest community advocate. Peaceprints is committed to changing the narrative of incarceration, however chooses to do so through a holistic approach, understanding the burden and impact our justice system plays on all levels and with all parties, law enforcement included. Partnering with the ECSO and JMD in particular was by no means a popular choice, and many felt that Peaceprints was risking their credibility with the community at large by doing so. Regardless, Peaceprints took a leap of faith by opening the conversation and forming their own opinion as to the true nature of the conditions of confinement within the JMD and the attitudes of those responsible for its operation. It was this open-mindedness which led to the creation and implementation of Project Blue. The results shown from its first three years of operation speak for themselves; incarcerated individuals who opt to enroll in Project Blue have better outcomes than those who do not. Finally, the ECSO’s relationship with Peaceprints has demonstrated that such a partnership is not only possible, but can in fact be successful, which has resulted in other community providers modifying their opinion of the JMD and seeking similar opportunities for collaboration.

If selected as a winner, how will the $7,500 prize money be applied?

The $7,500 prize money will be utilized to provide additional programming to enrolled participants during their incarceration. With an emphasis on workforce development targeted for year three of Project Blue’s operation, this additional funding source will allow for the enhancement of current offerings which includes the Ready, Set, Work! cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program. Feedback received from program participants has consistently included the desire for more specific job skills training to better prepare them for the workforce as they reintegrate back to the community and this award will greatly increase our ability to provide that opportunity.