We Raise Foundation, in Partnership with Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, Awards $500,000 GrantsPlus Grant to Keyway: Center for Diversion & Reentry

 In Criminal Justice

Itasca, IL – We Raise Foundation, in partnership with the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, is thrilled to announce its largest grant ever – a $500,000 three-year GrantsPlus grant to Keyway: Center for Diversion & Reentry (formerly known as Center for Women in Transition) in St. Louis, Mo.

Keyway: Center for Diversion & Reentry partners with women in the criminal justice system to support their successful transition to family and community through their reentry program. After incarceration, they help women build the lives they want for themselves through comprehensive wrap-around services designed to meet the individual needs of each woman.

“We are proud to partner with the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis in support of the people and programs served by Keyway Center for Diversion and Reentry,” said Paul Miles, President and CEO of We Raise Foundation. “As the largest grant We Raise has ever given, we hope our message is clear – that all people have value and are worthy of our best effort to support them as they work toward a better future. The women served by Keyway can plan for an optimistic future because of the housing, life skills training, and other valuable resources they receive.”

“We Raise Foundation “It is truly an honor for us to help build a more sustainable future for Keyway through this funding partnership with We Raise,” said Ann Vazquez, President and CEO of Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis.  “We have been impressed with the growth and development of Keyway, which provides impactful programming to meet the unique challenges faced by justice-involved women.”

Keyway was founded in 1997 as a mentoring program run by a group of nuns and laywomen who worked with incarcerated women. After noticing a cycle of recidivism, they met with incarcerated women to identify root causes of their returns to incarceration. They discovered a variety of challenges including a lack of safe, affordable housing; a lack of access to services such as substance use treatment, job placement, food, and transportation assistance; and a lack of positive social support. Keyway was started to specifically address these challenges.

Today, Keyway provides a full range of evidence-driven wrap-around services, including supportive housing, behavioral health services, vocational support, mentorship, court advocacy, and life skills coaching. The grant will help Keyway ensure staff are trained to address the specific issues and trauma that justice-involved women experience. It will also support their evidence-driven programming and fundraising efforts.

“For 25 years, we have remained steadfast in our mission to advocate for and assist justice-involved women, and through an evidence-driven wrap-around services model, we have reduced participants’ two-year recidivism rate to just 10.2%,” said April Foster, Executive Director of Keyway: Center for Diversion & Reentry. “Now, with the generous support of We Raise Foundation and Lutheran Foundation, we will be able to increase our capacity to support more women and expand our reach within the broader community as thought leaders in gender-responsive reentry services. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity.”

Since 1980, the incarceration rate for women has increased by 700%, but the number of organizations that serve this population is very small. “Most reentry programming is geared toward a male population, focusing on workforce development and job training,” Miles noted. “For many women, often the main objective is reunification with children, so housing becomes the focus, and housing is a major component of Keyway’s programming. They are doing phenomenal work.”

Since its founding, Keyway: Center for Diversion and Reentry has assisted over 2,300 women in and around the St. Louis metropolitan area.

We Raise GrantsPlus grants support new and innovative projects in Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Oakland/San Francisco working at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality. In addition to the grant award, We Raise will also provide Keyway with critical capacity building services, including a resource development assessment, incentivized crowdfunding campaign, and research to help strengthen and sustain their program.

About We Raise Foundation

Motivated by the belief that freedom is grace in action (Galatians 5:1a), We Raise Foundation partners with Christian nonprofit organizations and emerging leaders working at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality. We have a preference for funding solutions within the areas of education, workforce development, and criminal justice and employ a unique approach to our investing by coupling program funding with a variety of robust value-added services that empower our grantees to grow their solutions. As a result of these value-add services, every $1 that donors invest through We Raise multiplies into more than double the benefit to the organizations we support. To learn more, please visit weraise.org. You can also find We Raise on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis

As the grant-making ministry of 81 St. Louis area Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod congregations, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis’ vision is to see the Church brought into the lives of hurting people and people included in the healing life of the Church. We are committed to seeing the improved care of people in the greater St. Louis metropolitan region. Through our grant support we help congregations and organizations deliver services that cultivate meaningful transformation—mind, body and soul.  To learn more, please visit LutheranFoundation.org.

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