Community Empowerment Grant
Press Event & Data Walk

Springfield WORKS, a community-wide initiative with the Western Mass Economic Development Council, was awarded a Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant in February of 2022. Funding from this grant will help facilitate systemic socioeconomic changes in the city of Springfield. Part of this process was administering surveys to collect data on how organizations can be better situated to aid in the necessary changes.

  • Nearly half of people with criminal backgrounds, nationally, are still jobless a year after leaving prison.
  • More than 78 million Americans have a criminal or arrest record.
  • Nationally, Black adults are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated than their White counterparts, and Latino adults are more than three times more likely.
  • The unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated people in the U.S. (27%) is higher than at any other point in U.S. history.
  • A criminal record can reduce the chances of a second interview by 50%.
  • 51.7% of local adult respondents were formerly incarcerated, while 90.8% have family members who have been incarcerated.*
  • 20.2% of adult respondents were aged 18-24; 75.3% were over the age of 25; 4.5% of youth respondents were aged 14-17.
  • 27.4% of respondents had less than a 12th-grade education, 36.3% had a high school diploma or GED, 30.7% had some college or earned an associate degree, and 5.6% had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 17.4% were White, 35.4% were Black, 42.1% were Hispanic/Latino, and 5.1% belonged to other racial groups.
  • 32.2% of formerly incarcerated respondents were less likely to have stable housing and 22% more likely to live in a shelter, their car, or on the streets.
  • 7 of 11 youth respondents wanted help finding a job, receiving job training, and learning more about budgeting money.
  • Housing and employment are the most highly sought-after supports among respondents.
  • Formerly incarcerated people seek several supports at significantly higher levels than the never incarcerated:
    • Housing 42% vs. 20%
    • Job training 38% vs. 18%
    • Employment 36% vs. 28%,
    • Computer access 34% vs.13%
    • Mental health 33% vs. 6%
  • Of the 176 respondents, nearly half (47.16%) reportedly do not currently work for pay. Of those that do work, slightly more than one-third (36.36%) reportedly work full-time and the remainder (16.48%) reportedly work part-time.
  • Formerly incarcerated were significantly more likely to have been unable to pay for healthy food (44.4% vs 29.8%) and healthcare (18.4% vs 2.5%) than respondents who had never been incarcerated.
  • The formerly incarcerated were significantly more interested in learning about basic financial skills than the never incarcerated:
    • Budgeting money 52% vs. 25%
    • Will & Testament 51% vs. 25%
    • Owning a home 46% vs. 29%
    • Life insurance 44% vs. 18%
  • 64% of respondents that were connected to a childcare provider had the highest rate of employment, while 24% of respondents that were connected to public housing services had the lowest rate of employment.
  • 40% of respondents did not know how or where to connect to local resources for assistance.

Many thanks to our seven partnering organizations and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for funding this initiative.

*Surveys were intentionally targeted at justice-system-involved individuals.

Subscribe to our eNews to learn about next steps as they become available