In September of 2017, the True Freedom Ministries Board voted to form True Freedom Enterprises, a separate and sister 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated solely to prisoner workforce empowerment and transitional housing. Since then, Mike Swiger and the entire True Freedom Ministries team have worked hard to make this program purposeful and life changing, specializing in:
Pre-Release prisoner workforce readiness training
Pre-Release Work Release Programing
Post-Release trade-school training
On March 1, 2017, True Freedom Enterprises officially launched this new initiative at the Northeast Reintegration Center, a female prison located on East 30th in Cleveland.
One facet of this new outreach consists of a pre-release, pre-employment training program where inmates, during their last year of incarceration, will leave the institution under True Freedom’s watchful eye and work in an apprenticed, private-sector job.
Women are transported from the prison to the Comeback Cafe at the Virgil Brown building, where they recieve training and work experience as well as social services, food preparation and culinary skills. After six months working at this location, the women will graduate to The Marble Room Restaurant, one of Cleveland's premiere steakhouses, where they will continue their culinary training for an additional 90 days.
"We did more than transport seven women from the prison to the cafe at the Virgil Brown building, we restored honor and dignity to lives that have broken." - Mike Swiger
According to a May 2016 Harvard White Paper, using data collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) as part of the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP), ten thousand state and federal prisoners are released nationally every week. Sixty-seven percent are re-arrested within three years, and seventy–five percent are still unemployed after one year. In Cleveland alone, three thousand inmates are released every year, and twenty-five hundred are unemployed after one year. Of that 2,500 unemployed, 90% return to prison. This initiative is designed to dramatically reduce these numbers, which in turn will create safer communities all across Ohio.
The True Freedom Enterprises program will give these returning citizens a legitimate opportunity to locate gainful employment by providing:
• Gain real-world work experience prior to release
• Gain transferable skills and certifications to increase their human capital
• Receive job evaluations and job referrals from employers that can be used to secure post-release employment
• Gain access to re-entry resources to reduce financial barriers to reintegration
Our prayer is that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will allow us to expand this initiative to other prisons in a timely manner. Please help True Freedom Enterprises fulfill this mission with a gift today.