Grants for Felons Fund Reentry and Workforce Training Programs

| July 13, 2013 | 22 Comments

Grants For FelonsIf you are recently released from prison, nobody needs to tell you that getting back on your feet after a period of incarceration can be difficult. Finding a job is already tough given the state of the economy and many employers simply will not hire someone convicted of a felony, making it all the more difficult to reenter the workforce after being released. But do not give up hope. There is a tremendous amount of help available through federal programs that have placed these resources in local communities designed to help you find work after leaving prison behind.

Over the last decade, the U.S. Government has passed several major pieces of legislation to address the problem. And millions of dollars of federal money has been earmarked to help former felons reintegrate into the workforce, however, there is not a federal grant program where you can apply for a personal grant as these programs simply do not work in that way. And finding help for each individual situation can be tough. In almost all cases, the federal grant funding is filtered down to state labor departments that help place former felons into suitable jobs and to faith-based and community programs whose mission it is to work one on one with ex-convicts after release.

As almost all of the help available to you is at the state and local level, this is the best place for you to start your search. Contact your state Department of Corrections and inquire about your state’s prison reentry program. Many larger communities also have a local prison reentry program in place and the state agency will be the best place for you to find out about local services in your area. They should also be familiar with any faith-based or non-profit organizations that can offer you help in your area.

Career One Stop
Getting a job is key to successfully starting a new life after incarceration. Over 700,000 former prisoners are released in the United States each year and the one thing they almost always have in common is the help they need to find work. The U.S. Department of Labor funds this network of local job centers. Here you can find what jobs are available in your area and apply for education and training programs that will prepare you for available work. You are not ineligible to receive help from these offices due to having a criminal record. In fact, quite the opposite is true. And it is very much the mission of the Career One Stop center in your area to help you find work, regardless of past mistakes and circumstances you cannot control. Do not be afraid to make the most of the services they offer in your search for sustainable work.

Faith-Based and Community Programs
You should then search out and contact any local ministry or non-profit organization in your area that work with ex-felons and offer services to help you reintegrate. There are many of these groups spread across the United States and they exist to help recently released felons successfully rejoin society and the workforce. When searching locally, understand that many of these organizations have made it their mission to help ex-convicts assimilate back into the general population. Do not be afraid to seek their assistance or let pride stand in your way to accepting their help. They are there to help you and are as interested in finding you as you are in need of the services they provide. Here are a few examples of the types of organizations that are out there that you should turn to for help:

Allen Temple Housing and Economic Development Corporation
This faith-based organization is run by the Allen Temple Baptist Church and helps around 500 residents of Oakland, CA annually through Prisoner Re-entry Initiative funding.

America Works
This is not a church or a non-profit. America Works is an employment agency. They specialize in placing workers into many fields that are hard to recruit available help. And they have a policy of hiring from former prison populations. America Works has offices in California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and Washington, DC.

East of the River Clergy Police and Community Partnership
This is a community partnership that operates in the area of Southeast Washington, DC. It offers transitional housing to those leaving prison and will work with you to find long-term housing if selected for the program.

Exodus Transitional Community
Founded in 1999 by a former convict, Exodus is a faith-based reentry program in New York, NY. It offers employment services, career training and placement as well as other services targeted to help former felons find a successfully life after incarceration.

Operation New Hope
Based in Jacksonville, FL, this program provides job training and job placement for ex-felons. Selected participants undergo a 4 to 6 week career training program and the organization works to place its graduates in jobs through its many community partnerships.

Safer Foundation
This Chicago non-profit works with private companies that hire those with criminal records. Safer offers job training programs and help you to get your GED if you do not have a high school diploma. They also operate several residential transition centers, providing housing to those leaving prison while employed in work release jobs.

San Diego Second Chance Program
This non-profit works to transform lives through providing opportunity for behavioral changes and the acceptance of personal responsibility. They offer both job training and placement as well as drug rehabilitation and mental health services to those in need in the San Diego, CA area.

Word of Hope Ministries
This ministry is located in Milwaukee, WI. It offers a prison reentry program including mentoring and job placement for former felons as well as many other social services.

Getting an Education
In all cases, getting a proper education can be a powerful tool to help you find meaningful and suitable employment after serving time. This can set you apart from others and position you to get a better job that you could not otherwise get without a degree. If you find that attending a 4 year college or university is out of your reach financially, consider looking into vocational and technical school training, as this is usually far cheaper and more accessible. The good news here is that in pursuing an education there are in fact federal grants that can help you accomplish better preparing yourself for entering the workforce.

Pell Grant
The Federal Pell Grant Program can offer you as much as $5,645 per year to attend school. This is a need-based grant that is not a loan and does not have to be repaid. It is in fact free money for you to use to attend a college or technical school. Whether you can receive this grant to attend school is not based on merit or the grades you received in high school, but rather it is solely determined by financial need. You could also receive up to an additional $4,000 per year in grant money if you are selected to receive a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. As most ex-felons do not have the financial support that keep students from receiving these grants, it is quite likely that you can receive this need-based funding after leaving prison.

You may have heard that you are not eligible for federal education grants such as the Pell Grant due to having a prior conviction. But this is far from being true in all cases. And many ex-felons allow this misconception to keep them from applying for help to get an education. If you were convicted of a drug related crime, you are ineligible to receive a Pell Grant. But unless you were already receiving a Pell Grant at the time of your conviction, you can enroll in a drug rehabilitation program and become eligible to receive this federal funding. If your conviction was not for a drug related crime, then you are completely eligible to receive this federal school funding and should look into using this federal help to better your education. For information about all federal grant and loan programs offered by the Department of Education, read our article on federal student grants.

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Category: Education Grants, Personal Grants

About the Author ()

Kipp is the Contributing Editor for, covering sources of potential funding in the world of grants. His mission is to assist people like you by locating and sharing private, non-profit and government grants. Got a question or a tip on a neat grant? Connect with him now at Facebook Twitter

Comments (22)

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  1. Carl Evangelista says:

    I got an email with a question from Jon Ohlman who asked, “Are there any grants to help convicted felons pay bills or start/buy a business?”
    Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Felons are not going to find any grants to pay bills or start a business. The type of grants felons traditionally make use of offer career training, transitional housing and job placement. Paying bills and starting a business is most likely out of the question. You should also keep your search to a local level. This is where you will find 95% of the grant support offered for felons that you can apply for.

    • Patrick says:

      Subject: Eliminate Background Checks After 5 Years

      Hi, I created a petition to The Arkansas State House, The Arkansas State Senate, and 4 others which says: “I would like it to be an objective law, rather than a subjective choice by the employer, that background checks for gainful employment past 5 years should be eliminated with a few exceptions.” Will you post this comment so people can see and sign this petition? Click here: Thanks!

  2. Merrie Sevarge says:

    Hello. I was paroled in Sept. 2013. I will be on parole here in Las Vegas, Nevada until Oct. I have a job, not such a good one, but it is one of the few that does not require a background check here. I am enrolled to go to Kaplan College for a Medical Assistant diploma starting in Feb. 2014. I have it 98% funded with FASFA, Pell, loans, etc. I desperately need a car in order to attend the classes. The bus won’t work as the classes go until 11PM and the bus doesn’t run that late. Is there any funding for transportation for a woman over 50 who is a former felon?

    • Kipp Shives says:

      That is great to hear you have your upcoming education 98% funded. Congratulations! With respect to your transportation needs, have you seen our article on Car Grants? One of those programs will allow you to create a profile on their car donation website to promote your need. You might also want to do a program search with Working Cars for Working Families to see if there are any car donation programs listed in Nevada.

    • Hello Merrie, Will you be attending the Kaplan collage on Valley View and Sahara? If so please give me the major cross streets of your starting location. I may have some options for your transportation to and from school. Reply directly to me at

  3. timothy kirby says:

    hi, ive been in and out of trouble since 2002, i had 7 felony since then, no one will hire me, and all i end up doing is getting in more trouble the state took away my dl for not paying court fines, which unreasonable to pay, i have a 9 year old son that i cant see because i cant drive and pick him up or drop him off at school. the system makes no since to me, i think there here to keep me in this never ending cycle . i need help

  4. Cary Silberman says:

    I am seeking funding to teach felons how to make films. I’m an ex-felon.

  5. Midwest Al says:

    Looking for grants or help for a single father with felonies trying to get ahead. Want to pay off back child support and bills. Been almost 4 years and I can’t get ahead. I make just enough to get by. Any suggestions?

  6. Melissa Hernandez says:

    Any grants for a single mother of 3. I need help getting back on my feet and reunite with my kids.

  7. Kenneth Johnson says:

    I need grant money for relocation from Oregon to Missouri I also need grant money to start my education at a local tech College here in Missouri. I am really trying to improve my life after prison release. I really need some help to start college next year.

  8. Jose Hernandez says:

    hi, I have two felonies from when I was 17 I am now 22 and have a little girl that I am raising as a single parent really haven’t been able to get bye and need advice.

  9. Kristy McDonald says:

    I am looking for help to continue my computer career. I am behind on my school loans so i can’t receive Pell Grant. Please help me. Thank you for your time.

  10. Jimi Lynn Coleman says:

    I reside in Reno Nevada and I am having trouble finding a construction company that hires felons. I need financial assistance with everyday needs. How can I get a grant that is not for going to school or starting a business as I am un-able to commit to the time needed. I have an elderly mother whom I reside with.

  11. Martha Scales says:

    Where can I get assistance in the Dallas Fort Worth Texas area? I need some support with getting employment. Thanks for your assistance.

    • Hello Martha, I like the America Works company out of all the programs offered. They have a service called “a company with a conscience” and they specialize in hard-to-place workers. They not only work with felons but also military veterans, people who are homeless and living in shelters and people with HIV/AIDS. Its a 4 step program and this is the direct link to show you the steps The 4 Steps. Feel free to email me directly anytime

  12. Nathan Hernandez says:

    Do you have any info on grants for me? I just got out of prison and I am trying to go to school.

  13. Marissa says:

    I would like to know if I am eligible for any grants since I am enrolled in school already. I am a convicted felon recently released.

  14. Mark Oldham says:

    I just got out of prison 3 months ago and I would like information on grants to go to a trade school for welding or ac.

  15. Lynn says:

    I’m a exfelon who wants to go back to school. I owe the state college $300 from an old course I took. I don’t have the money to pay it. Is there any program that will pay it for me?

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