An innovative nonprofit that assists individuals transitioning out of incarceration has found a new home on the Brandywine Hundred campus of Widener University Delaware Law School.
The organization, Project New Start, was started six years ago to curb violence and reduce recidivism through its successful intervention programs providing counseling, life skills, job training and job placement assistance to offenders reentering the community. After relocating their Claymont offices to the law school campus, Project New Start is now exploring strategic partnerships with Widener that will benefit program participants, and engage faculty and students in service, teaching and research.
The collaboration was the brainchild of law school dean Rodney A. Smolla, who was impressed with the agency’s approach and track record.
“We are thrilled to have Project New Start on our campus – their proven formula for re-entry training really works,” said Smolla. “We are deeply committed to their mission and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership, including facilitating service and learning opportunities for our students and faculty.”
Priscilla Turgon, Project New Start executive director, said the partnership will provide an additional boost to the program’s substantial momentum.
“Relocating to the campus provides unlimited opportunities for creative collaboration between our staff and program participants and Delaware Law School faculty and students. We are anxious to begin learning and growing together,” said Turgon.
Project New Start’s signature ‘New Start Reentry Program,’ is billed as a “comprehensive, no-nonsense, results-oriented occupational skills/job-readiness program for offenders transitioning out of state and federal institutions.” The program provides marketable skills and supports positive behaviors through an evidence-based approach to cognitive restructuring.
Since launching, New Start graduates have had a recidivism rate of under 25 percent compared to a 76 percent rate for the state of Delaware. In addition, more than 90 percent of program graduates have secured employment and are contributing to the local economy as tax-paying members of the community.
For more information on Project New Start go to www.project-new-start.org.