FOCUS Offender Re-Entry Mentoring Program

admin May 15, 2011 0

Facilitating Offenders Seeking Uplifting Situations (Focus) is an offender re-entry mentoring program dedicated to reduce recidivism (the rate at which previous offenders return to prison) and improve community safety. It aims to help offenders to stabilize their lives upon release from jail and help them achieve self-sufficiency. It provides services exclusively for the 20th Judicial District Probation Department and the Boulder County Jail.

This interfaith plus program was created by the Restoring the Soul: Faith and Community Partnerships, a non-profit organization established by faith leaders and executive directors of various service agencies in Boulder County. FOCUS was formed to address the gap in social services in the region, including the assistance given to offenders who are transitioning out of the prison back into the society. It was created as a secular offender reentry mentoring program that would work with inmates at the Boulder County Jail. In 2004, FOCUS was introduced to Sheriff Joe Pelle who signed a memorandum of understanding in support of the program. A year later, the first FOCUS mentor started work. By 2008, over a dozen of mentors in the field and clients graduated from the program.

FOCUS has received various financial awards including the Colorado Compassion Initiative financial award in 2005 to further its work, and the Wells Fargo award in 2005 and in 2008 to offer emergency needs for offenders on release. In 2007, it received the NOVA Award from Community Foundation for civic engagement. In 2008 to 2009, the program was funded by the Boulder County Commissioners. FOCUS is exempted from tax under the (501) (c) (3) of Volunteer Connection (VC), its fiscal agent providing financial oversight.

FOCUS has signed a memorandum of understanding to provide mentors to every government agency. It is a member of the Community Reentry Council, a collaboration between 40 service agencies across the county that have joined its efforts with their commitment and resources to reentry. Its goal is to reduce the re-offending rate by providing life skills and cognitive behavior classes and support in the Boulder County Jail as tools for success in the society.

One way to help the program is to become a mentor. Mentors must be more than 25 years old and willing to offer guidance in decision making and life skills while having a nonjudgmental viewpoint.

Another way of helping FOCUS is through donations. The program operates with only limited funding and depends largely on volunteer effort. Your financial donation will allow the program to train and coordinate more mentors, thus providing more offenders the chance to have productive lifestyles.

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