From Release to Redemption
This nonprofit is helping people find their footing through its reentry program. Learn how Regions is lending support to one its community partners.
By Kim Borges
The Bottom Line:
“Truth be told, there’s a real good chance I’d be back in prison already if it weren’t for this program.”
The Good News:
John R. is on a road to redemption. He knows he has Jobs Partnership Peoria to thank for it. And he’s doing the hard work to keep it going.
We’re calling him “John R.” to help protect his privacy. Getting back on your feet after incarceration can be tough. Very tough.
Still, John R. wanted Regions Bank to help share his story – because he wants people everywhere to know second chances are for real.
The Saving Grace:
“John is a legitimate go-getter,” said Vicky Eckhardt, a financial opportunities coach who’s worked with John to build his credit – and his finances – since 2021. “He follows up. If you talk about something, John actually goes and does it.”
Eckhardt and her Jobs Partnership Peoria colleagues are there not just for John, but for hundreds of other people in Illinois through their organization’s effective Reentry Program. The nonprofit is another example of good work supported by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Central Illinois.
How Regions Bank Comes In:
Regions supports LISC Central Illinois and its nonprofit community partners as they reach people who are underserved and connect them with career development, financial coaching and more. In December 2022, the bank presented LISC Central Illinois with its latest gift of $20,000.
Bart Rose, Regions’ Commercial Banking leader and market executive for Central Illinois, serves on LISC Central Illinois’ Local Advisory Committee.
“The results are changed lives,” Rose said. “This is thoughtful, strategic work. LISC and groups like Jobs Partnership Peoria are investing in people – and they are doing so in ways that bring about self-sufficiency, restored confidence, and restored futures.”
This is thoughtful, strategic work. LISC and groups like Jobs Partnership Peoria are investing in people – and they are doing so in ways that bring about self-sufficiency, restored confidence, and restored futures.
Bart Rose, Regions’ Commercial Banking leader for Central Illinois
Results that Last:
John R. was incarcerated for 18 months last time. And he’s determined that it will, indeed, remain the last time.
“I’ve been to prison five times,” he said. “I’ve been locked up right around ten years all together.”
His history as a repeat offender isn’t unusual.
Why Successful Reentry Programs Matter:
- At the end of 2020, more than 1.8 million Americans were incarcerated.
- 600,000-plus people are released from state and federal prisons, and 9 million are released from local jails annually, according to Harvard Political Review.
- Of those released, two out of three are rearrested, and more than 50% are incarcerated again within three years.
- It’s estimated criminal recidivism reduces the annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $65 billion.
But Work Like This Can Help:
“One of the biggest barriers our clients face is they are sometimes starting over with no identification, no Social Security card, nothing,” Eckhardt explained. “We’re helping them navigate the basics like, ‘Where are you staying tonight?’ They’re starting from ground zero. One thing clients often tell me is things are moving so fast, they don’t have any foundation underneath them. They go from everything being dictated in prison to complete freedom, sometimes literally overnight. We want them to know that at Jobs Partnership, you have someone to walk through this with you.”
Hence the strategic, step-by-step guidance Eckhardt provides.
Consider the success she’s already built with John R.
“John went from no credit score to a credit score of 707 in a year and a half,” said Eckhardt. “He’s also saved a significant amount of money and is taking homebuyer classes. John has maintained employment, saved the money, and built his credit. He’s setting himself up for what he wants to do and for success.”
We want them to know that at Jobs Partnership, you have someone to walk through this with you.
Vicky Eckhardt, Jobs Partnership Peoria financial opportunities coach
Another Result of a Reentry Program – Lasting Gratitude:
“Vicky has helped me with a lot of different things,” John said. “My credit score is now in the mid-700s and I’m hoping to buy a house in the next year.”
Eckhardt sees additional opportunities for John on the horizon.
“I feel like John’s just really beginning to understand that he can do this … that this is all really possible for him,” she said.
The excitement of those possibilities bubbled over during a recent conversation the two had.
“The last time I talked with John, I said, ‘You’re really doing it, I’m so proud of you,’” Eckhardt said. “I wanted him to know that he is actually doing what so many only talk about. I could tell by the way he received it that it really meant something to him.”
John R. has now held the same job for two years and is working toward being four years drug and alcohol free.
They all add up to one discovery he’s made:
“It’s never too late to start over.”
Having someone like Eckhardt working with him makes hard days easier.
Having community partners like Jobs Partnership Peoria, LISC Central Illinois, and Regions Bank sharing resources and services makes it possible.
Learn more about Jobs Partnership Peoria and its reentry program on their website.