Learn about what we do at Project RETURN
Project RETURN (Returning Ex-offenders To Urban Realities and Neighborhoods), is an interfaith ministry that exists to help men and women who have experienced incarceration, make a positive and permanent return to community, family, and friends.
In 1980, Cross Lutheran Church brought together interested parties to consider the challenge of high recidivism in Milwaukee. As a result, Project RETURN was formed in 1981, and for 30 years has walked alongside ex-offenders, providing assistance with employment, housing, and encouragement to change lives and the community.
Programs offered by Project RETURN
Re-Entry Employment Program (REEP)
This program works with men and women still incarcerated in one of the minimum security prisons in Milwaukee. Through this program, the individuals are able to job search at the Project RETURN office, thus allowing more opportunities in a still-supervised setting. The inmates are allowed to contact employers via telephone or fax, under the supervision of Project RETURN staff. LaVealea Ball-Johnson and Andre Brown, along with the rest of the Project RETURN staff, work with the participants in this program.
Project RETURN facilitates employment/fatherhood groups. Through these groups, participants learn basic "soft skills" of employment, while also focusing on values, goals, and other issues affecting the individual's job search. Additionally, participants engage in a fatherhood curriculum. The vast majority of the individuals participating are, or will soon be, fathers. This curriculum is designed to help the individual become more active in their child's life and, as a result, stay out of trouble.
Jobs Task Force
The Jobs Task Force is held every Tuesday and Thursday. Through this program, we enroll new clients for Project RETURN and our services. Clients work one-on-one with a case manager to assess and help in the best way possible.
In 2010, Project RETURN saw in excess of 1,500 new clients walk through the door of Project RETURN, many walk-in clients accessing the Jobs Task Force program alone. Through this program, participants sign up to be members of Project RETURN. They access job leads and obtain help with resumes and applications. They utilize our computer lab, obtain assistance with transportation and clothing needs, and when available, get help with personal needs such as appliances and furniture, hygiene products and other needs. All the case managers and the executive director assist the men and women involved in this program.
Changes Support Groups
Project RETURN offers three groups to individuals not referred by the DOC (Department of Corrections) to address AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) issues in their life. Two of these groups are men's groups (Tuesday and Friday night, both facilitated by Clem Richardson), and the other is a women's group (Wednesday, facilitated by Lavealea Ball-Johnson). These groups try to assist the participants with drug addictions, anger management, and other issues the individual may encounter.
The Alumni Group provides men and women who have worked with Project RETURN in the past, become more active in projects specifically interesting to them as a group. This group meets every Wednesday evening from 5:00 - 6:00. The three areas that drive the group are:
- Advocacy for change in community policies.
- Connecting with Community Resources.
- Supporting and assisting one another.
Partners and Memberships
Project RETURN is a member organization of Community Shares. Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee is passionately committed to raising money for its nonprofit members, focusing on social justice, animal welfare, and the environment. Learn more at Community Shares.