Scholarship funds to remove barriers for felons

There are many impediments to successful reentry into society after incarceration, but thanks to some organizations there are programs are available to help remove some barriers.

TEEM and 7-Eleven, Inc. have partnered up to provide a scholarship fund that will provide a transportation and housing initiative to individuals reentering society from prison.

“The scholarship fund will help by rewarding responsible behavior,” Director Kris Steele said. “It will be a scholarship program, not a loan. Resources in the account will match participant funds up to $500.”

The initiative came to fruition after conversations between TEEM’s Executive Director Kris Steele and Patrick Raglow, Executive Director of Catholic Charities. A long-term supporter of TEEM’s mission, Raglow inquired how his organization could continue their partnership with the nonprofit. After accessing the primary needs of TEEM’s participants, the idea for a scholarship fund was born.

The scholarship fund materialized on Monday, January 5, 2015, when an inconspicuous letter was received in TEEM’s mail. Addressed to TEEM from 7-Eleven Stores was a check for $100,000 and a letter filled with congratulatory remarks on the start of a transportation and housing initiative. This generous contribution will provide assistance to 200 participants throughout the coming year.

TEEM is an interfaith, 501(c) 3, nonprofit that exists to break cycles of incarceration and poverty in Oklahoma through education, character development and work readiness training. With a service model incorporating evidence-based curriculum, one-on-one mentoring, effective case management, occupational skills training, social services assistance and job placement services, TEEM aims to reduce recidivism rates, strengthen families and increase public safety. Approximately 8,400 inmates are released from Oklahoma’s prisons each year. Of this number, 24% will recidivate within 6 months of release. TEEM’s holistic approach works to change this trend by providing comprehensive reentry services to individuals transitioning out of incarceration.

As TEEM moves into 2015, the nonprofit continues its mission of changing the face of incarceration. In the process, TEEM continues to dream out loud and is thankful to work with community partners committed to providing a new beginning and a brighter future.

— Media release edited by Kory B. Oswald