How a nonprofit dedicated to reducing reincarceration is using JTC’s impact reporting to disrupt the way the philanthropic world thinks about results.
The JTC Impact Medallion Program recognizes impact projects that embrace best practices in security, transparency, and compliance. In this series, we’ll showcase Impact Medallion recipients and how they’re leading the way on Impact & ESG.
We at JTC are known for our involvement in the world of impact investing, and our impact reports help demonstrate how investments through programs like EB-5 and Opportunity Zones can benefit underserved communities. But our methods for measuring impact have applications beyond their use by impact funds. These tools can also be utilized by nonprofit and community organizations with a wide range of missions, and today we’re highlighting one such organization that is employing JTC’s technology to show just how effective its programs have been.
The mission of Concordance is to dramatically reduce reincarceration rates by precisely and rigorously executing a holistic, integrated, evidence-informed re-entry model, focusing equally on process and art. The organization’s re-entry model helps individuals returning from prison by focusing on 12 essential services delivered in phases beginning six months pre-release and continuing one year after release.
Rigorously developed in collaboration with university researchers, lawmakers, and community leaders, the Concordance re-entry model is unlike any other being used today, and has reduced reincarceration rates among participants far beyond initial expectations. Concordance continues to expand, with the goal of eventually bringing its programs to the entire country.
We spoke with Chairman and CEO Danny Ludeman about the obstacles people face following incarceration, the value of collaborating with community leaders, and the importance of concrete data in the organization’s work. She also talked about small things everyone can do to help justice-involved individuals.
Concordance’s mission is to reduce reincarceration rates through an evidence-informed re-entry model. Can you tell us a bit about what makes your strategy different from methods used in the past and why it’s working?
Ludeman: After opening our doors in 2016, Concordance has lowered the rate of reincarceration by 56% among participants who have been released from prison in the last three years. To achieve this, we’ve removed the logistical barriers that justice-involved individuals often face upon re-entry. We take a healing-first approach and provide 12 integrated services under one roof in three service areas: behavioral health and wellness, community and life skills, and education and employment. The holistic implementation of these services – coupled with wrap-around care from each participant’s support team, which includes a therapist, case manager, career coach, community support specialist, peer support specialist, and chaplain – provides a navigable pathway for our participants to reach their goals and lead joyful and abundant lives.
You mentioned how Concordance has been able to reduce the reincarceration rate among participants in St. Louis. With a proven model, what are the challenges you face in scaling so that you can potentially bring these methods to the entire country?
Ludeman: As a disruptor in the re-entry space, anytime you bring a new concept to market there is a need for education: about the larger issue of mass incarceration, about Concordance’s innovative re-entry model, and about the immense benefits that positive outcomes from our program have on communities. It has been integral for us to meet and collaborate with state and local government stakeholders, civic leaders, and hiring partners to better understand how working with Concordance will support, impact, and further many of the goals they already have in place.
One of the hardest things about bringing attention to the formerly incarcerated is that this population is largely invisible to many people in America. What can those reading this do to better understand the needs of those in their communities who’ve largely been ignored?
Ludeman: With over 100 million individuals impacted by mass incarceration, this is one of the largest societal issues of our time. I want every individual reading this to help remove the stigma of being justice-involved. Whether that is becoming more trauma-informed and leveraging trauma-informed language or, if you’re an employer, re-examining your hiring practices. Ask yourself: what misconceptions do I have or what barriers does my organization have to becoming more inclusive and supportive of those who are justice-involved? Helping to establish equity is paramount in creating first real chances for those who were not given one at birth.
While Concordance works with individuals in a variety of ways, these efforts are invariably connected to larger national issues of incarceration, policing, the War on Drugs, etc. How do you determine what your role in the greater scheme of things should be, and what is the balance between private-sector solutions and the public-sector decisions that ultimately affect your work?
Ludeman: While the policy landscape impacts our participants whether they are pre-release or post-release, our mission is to service our participants as they re-enter the community. We work closely with the Department of Corrections and other affiliated organizations to ensure we can help the most people by providing a smooth transition for our participants. We take great care to provide our participants a platform to share their experiences and share them with our network of individuals and organizations across the country.
Concordance has worked with JTC to provide impact reporting on some of its projects. What is the value of data when it comes to fundraising and proving to stakeholders that what you’re doing is working?
Ludeman: So much of philanthropy involves giving to a cause and having faith that your contribution makes a difference. Concordance has flipped the script. We show our partners how they are making an impact in the lives of our participants though data like participant outcome reporting. But the ultimate return on investment can be seen all throughout our community. By coming to Concordance each day, our participants are doing the difficult work of healing trauma, maintaining sobriety, engaging in stable employment, and with their confidence in themselves solidified and the tools to be successful, they’re able to reunite with their families, gain meaningful employment, and lead purpose-filled lives.