FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Kelley Bryant, Senior Manager of Research and Engagement / kbryant[at]mywomensfund.org / 413-529-0087
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts Awards $50,000 to Community Legal Aid to Optimize Reentry for Formerly Incarcerated Women and Gender-Diverse People
Springfield, Mass. (June 7, 2023) – The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) has awarded $50,000 in grant funding to Community Legal Aid (CLA)—a non-profit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and elderly residents of Central and Western Massachusetts—for their CORI/Reentry Unit and the development and support of a Reentry Coalition and Network. This partnership will address the shared goals of mitigating the negative effects of incarceration, reducing justice system involvement, and optimizing reentry of formerly incarcerated women and gender-diverse people in the Greater Springfield are and Hampden County.
CLA’s Reentry Coalition and Network will include a broad range of organizations working to help formerly incarcerated individuals overcome barriers that prevent them from reestablishing a stable life. Their recruitment will focus on women and gender-expansive people who either have criminal records or are formerly incarcerated and are involved with reentry work; medical providers who utilize a harm reduction model in their practice and services; educational programs that offer support and access to programming post-incarceration; employment support organizations; and housing advocates.
CLA began its CORI/Reentry work in 2016 to help formerly incarcerated individuals overcome barriers to safe and affordable housing, steady and fulfilling employment, and other opportunities to reintegrate into society, an essential first step to living stable and safe lives. “We represent people facing the collateral consequences of the criminal court system,” said Alyssa Golden, Senior Supervising Attorney of the CORI/Reentry Unit at CLA. “We believe everyone should have the right to housing and steady income and the opportunity to thrive as individuals, within families, and as part of communities.”
The WFWM is proud to collaborate with CLA to establish and strengthen work around reentry for families. “We are humbled by our community partners who work to advance the lives of formerly incarcerated women and gender-diverse people in our region,” said Donna Haghighat, Women’s Fund CEO. “As a public foundation that invests in gender and racial equity, we wanted to invest in the lives of community members who are impacted by the negative effects of incarceration. We’re grateful to be able to work with them to create greater change for reducing justice-system involvement.”
The Greater Springfield Women’s Economic Security Hub (ESH) work is made possible with thanks to MassMutual Foundation, Berkshire Bank, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Program, the City of Springfield American Rescue Plan Act, and MassMutual Women’s Leadership Business Resource Group. To learn more about the ESH, visit www.mywomensfund.org/economic-security-hub/.
About Community Legal Aid, Inc.: One Monarch Place, Suite 400, Springfield, MA 01144
Community Legal Aid provides free civil legal services to the low-income and elderly residents of the five counties of Western and Central Massachusetts (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester), and maintains offices in Worcester, Fitchburg, Springfield, Northampton, and Pittsfield. Community Legal Aid works to assure fairness for all in the justice system, protecting homes, livelihoods, health and families. For more information, please visit www.communitylegal.org.
About WFWM: 333 Bridge Street, Springfield, MA 01103
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts fuels progress toward gender equity by funding the most promising solutions, collaborating with results-oriented partners, and by elevating the collective power of local women to take charge, and to lead with purpose. To learn more, visit mywomensfund.org