The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is pleased to announce the results of the Supportive Reentry RFP which closed November 5, 2021.
Last year, thanks to the recommendations of the Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force, $1,383,000 in City of Seattle General Fund was allocated to funding culturally appropriate reentry services and rerooting programming for BIPOC currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. The Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force is a diverse group of people of color and community leaders representing a cross-section of industries, including environmental justice, who came together to spearhead the process of developing recommendations for a $30 million investment into our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Initial funding is for the period of December 15, 2021-December 31, 2022.
In response to this RFP, HSD received 26 proposals totaling $5,885,112 in requested funds from agencies. The 26 proposals were forwarded to the rating panel to be read and rated individually, and then as a group. This rating panel was comprised of community members and staff who were of, and/or work with, the focus and priority populations of this RFP. Raters held content expertise in community-led solutions to supportive reentry programs for BIPOC Communities in the City of Seattle, King County, and Washington State. Raters were age, gender, and ethnically diverse and represented multiple cultures and communities.
The top nine rated proposals were recommended for funding, although none of the agencies received the full amount requested. Read more below about a few of them:
- Arms Around You
- Boys & Girls Club of King County
- Chief Seattle Club
- Community Passageways
- Creative Justice
- East African Community Services
- Freedom Project
- Northwest Credible Messenger
- University Beyond Bars
Arms Around You (AAY) is an organization that works “to increase public safety and reduce recidivism by helping the most vulnerable people become self-sufficient, productive, contributing members of their communities.” Their proposal’s strengths included the diverse range of men, women and young adults they serve, their by and for model, and their strong use of qualitative data. AAY offers services in education, therapy, substance abuse treatment, legal assistance, and job placement. They also offer six different social enterprise businesses where trainees can receive real job training that they can use immediately upon graduation from one of the programs.
“We’re excited to be chosen,” shared Avon Curtis, AAY’s Chief Executive Officer. “We applied for this funding because we wanted the opportunity to support the re-entry community in a more meaningful way,” and grassroots organizations like this often face challenges in getting funding. As a Black female-founded and led organization, 83% of AAY staff are Black women, and 100% are BIPOC women.
When a member of Chief Seattle Club’s Re-Entry Program is first released from prison, Jeremy Garretson is there with a “Day One” package. He takes them to get a fresh set of clothes, a cell phone, and a bus pass. Once the basics are settled, it’s time to make a plan. Garretson works with each member individually to determine personalized next steps for employment and either transitional or permanent housing.
The Club’s Reetry Program will serve 120 members annually and will connect individuals reentering communities to housing, mental health support, employment, and cultural support like healing through drumming and sweat lodges. Their Reentry Manager is Northern Arapaho and is himself, formerly incarcerated. He has “yellow badge” access to all prisons and visits at least two prisons a month to build relationships with AI/AN community members who are incarcerated.
The Freedom Project uses a three-pronged model centered on healing circles. The circles are facilitated using trauma informed approaches, including compassionate communication. All three components were built on requests from community members. The other two are: community-based support, focused on systems navigation, and housing support. The applicant also focused on eradicating anti-blackness.
Northwest Credible Messenger‘s proposal described a healing-centered, community/home-based, culturally-responsive, and customized approach. The organization has a strong emphasis on restorative justice principles and described several established community partnerships including University of Washington (which supports internships, data capacity and more) and the State of Washington. Their application described using cognitive therapy and getting to the root causes of issues, as well as focused on workforce readiness and engagement of positive adult models. Northwest Credible Messenger believes that “communities have the solutions they need.”
Avon Curtis agrees. “We advocate for individuals… but they have to do the footwork to get there. We want to be here to put our arms around you but you have to be responsible for yourself.”
When asked about the impact this type of funding from the City has, she shared that they are looking forward to getting a bigger office and that this investment is going to open up more doors for her organization. But the important thing is “it’s going to make the community safer because there are organizations like ours. Working together collectively. When you work together it makes a much stronger community.”
She also believes that having the City fund programs like this does more than just reduce recidivism. “We go inside to build the relationship with you. And when you leave we are still here. And that’s huge.” Because when you’re building a relationship with people who may have been failed by the system, you need to that earn that trust.
For more information about this RFP, please contact Natalie Thomson, RFP Coordinator, at Natalie.Thomson@seattle.gov.