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Wolf Administration Awarded $10 Million Federal Grant to Support Reentrants in Pennsylvania Through First Step Act Initiative

Governor Tom Wolf today announced the Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) success in securing a $10 million federal grant, funded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s First Step Act initiative via the Employment and Training Administration, to invest in resources that support formerly incarcerated individuals in their transition back to the community.

With the First Step Act grant funding, Pennsylvania will create a re-entry program that aims to reduce recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals by supporting re-entrants with a robust network of job-training and skills-development services through L&I. The program also aims to ensure equal access to employment opportunities for returning citizens and develop a pool of skilled workers who meet specific labor-market needs, particularly in historically marginalized communities.

“The ability to secure high-quality, family-sustaining employment is a key part of success for re-entrants returning to their communities after incarceration and is a powerful tool in reducing recidivism,” said Gov. Wolf. “The First Step Act initiative not only supports a successful transition into society, but it allows re-entrants to build meaningful relationships with employers and helps address new and ongoing workforce challenges amidst a historically tight labor market. My administration’s commitment to training and supporting individuals at every step of the re-entry process is an undeniable investment in the well-being of reentrants and the communities they live in.”

The project to establish a re-entry program will begin immediately as a collaborative effort among L&I, the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Pennsylvania Reentry Council, local workforce development boards, nonprofit reentry services and coalitions, individual employers and employer groups. This grant funding will directly invest in the work of re-entry specialists and training instructors at minimum- and low-security federal prisons within Pennsylvania to provide inmates with vocational education prior to release.

Pennsylvania will work with its federal partners at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Justice (DOJ) in this first-of-its-kind partnership, which will also see collaboration from federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities and residential reentry centers, with the overarching goal of improving employment outcomes for participants while strengthening communities where programs operate.

Governor Wolf has prioritized criminal justice reform throughout his administration. Pardons, Pennsylvania’s first-in-the-nation Clean Slate Law, and reentry support are all part of the Wolf Administration’s strategy to support meaningful change that allows for success, reduced recidivism, and safer communities.

PA CareerLink® Reentry Resources

PA CareerLink prepares Pennsylvanians to meet the needs of businesses and matches employers with qualified, skilled candidates. Individuals can register for career and training services, search for job postings and upload a resume to make themselves visible and available to thousands of employers.

PA CareerLink also has more than 5,000 free unique virtual training modules available through SkillUp PA™ to help anyone in the commonwealth gain new skills and advance their careers. Anyone can access these resources for free. Visit L&I’s main SkillUp PA page for more information on programs, resources, and FAQs.

For more information about community reentry and transitional services, visit the DOC’s workforce development page.

Governor Wolf is a leader consistently at work for the people of Pennsylvania. Learn more about how his Priorities for Pennsylvania have fueled the commonwealth’s comeback, leaving Pennsylvania in a much better place than when he arrived.