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Prison Reentry Initiative

The Wilson Foundation has supported prison reentry programming since its inception, recognizing that incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals are members of the community who oftentimes need support and services to become productive members of society.  In the past, the Foundation supported reentry programs that focus on education, job readiness, life and soft skills training, financial literacy, parenting and family reunification.  While we will continue to support such integral programs, we have adopted a more strategic, comprehensive approach that will provide a greater, more thoughtful source of support for reentry services, as well as policy and advocacy work.  With Louisiana having the highest incarceration rate in the world, the Foundation believes that this historically underfunded area should be a top priority. 

The Foundation launched a multi-year Prison Reentry Initiative, beginning January 2016 in the Greater Baton Rouge area.  The Foundationís strategy relies on bringing together various stakeholders, including officials at all levels of the criminal justice system, lawmakers, direct services providers, faith-based providers, mental health care workers, employers, volunteer mentors, and the communityís citizenry, and facilitating a collaborative approach based on shared data and results-driven learning to minimize and overcome the current challenges related to prison reentry.

The Reentry Initiative seeks to create a continuum of care of support that engages incarcerated persons earlier in the process, and stays with individuals longer after they are released to better support their reintegration back into their communities. The Foundationís ultimate goal is to create a dramatic reduction in the percentage of formerly incarcerated residents that return to prison and to increase in the cost-savings associated with successful reintegration. To do this, the Reentry Initiative looks to support efforts that focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • Awareness and education
  • Capacity building and collaboration building
  • Policy and practice changes

The Foundation will make three types of investments into the Reentry Initiative: Direct program support, Capacity building and planning support, and Systems change support.  In making investment determinations, the Foundation will look for projects with the following characteristics:

  • Projects designed to produce and verify specific changes in systems, organizations and participants that directly contribute to the Foundation results we seek in the respective focus areas;
  • Projects that can achieve more than one Prison Reentry result;
  • Projects that can be effectively implemented and ultimately continued without our funding;
  • Projects that are replicable and can be shared with other organizations looking to produce similar results; and 
  • Projects that use evidence-based practices and strategies and/or offer clear results.

While the projects to be supported by this Initiative should be long-term in nature, investments will be made in one-year increments. Partners will be expected to report on progress and participate in quarterly learning sessions. Opportunities for additional support will be provided to partners who make meaningful progress toward the Prison Reentry Initiativeís results.

Please thoroughly review the Reentry Initiative Guidelines prior to drafting and submitting an online application.   

For assistance on the Reentry Initiative, please contact Tristi Charpentier at
(225) 292-1344 or tristi@hwilson.org.


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