Government Grants for Ex Convicts

Updated April 17, 2017

There are 1500 types of government grants administered by 57 different government agencies, but ex-felons and social programs for ex-felons historically been at a disadvantage in competing for federal grants. This is due to a number of reasons. The major stumbling block was public mistrust and discrimination. Three acts of legislation passed in the last decade has made significant progress in overcoming obstacles that hinder federal aid for ex-felons. Another factor that has played an important role is the Internet. There are a number of public forums devoted to aiding ex-felons and their families once they leave prison.

Understanding the basics: The purpose of grants

What are grants and what is their function? 1. Grants are given by federal agencies and private sources such as foundations and corporations.In 2010 there were 1,000 Federal programs; 24,000 State Programs, 30,000 Private Foundations, and 20,000 Scholarships. 2. Federal grants are used for a multitude of purposes. On a personal level there are numerous issues: Home repair, mortgage payments, rent, groceries, medical bills, and so forth. 3. Ex-felons are often plagued by a number of problems that makes it difficult to successfully re-enter society. Such problems include: a lack economic resources and opportunities, housing, inadequate education, and substance abuse. There is money at the federal and state level to address these problems. 5. The most significant source of federal money and financial support for ex-felons comes from non-profit organisations and religious organisations. NPO's are usually single issue agencies that have a particular agenda such as prison relief. Religious organisations operate in a similar fashion. They are concerned with social service issues.

Legislation for ex-felon re-entry programs

Three important pieces of legislation have been passed in the last decade that address the problems that ex-prisoners face when attempting to re-enter their communities. These aim of these initiatives is to provide aid to both the ex-prisoner and her or his community.

2001 The Faith-Based Initiative - This act of legislation makes federal money accessible to private individuals, non-profit organisations, and faith-based organisations. Most federal money addresses the individual needs of ex-felons by means of non-profit and faith-based organisations.

2004 The Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative: This proposed £195 million over a four year period. The goals was to help rebuild urban communities by helping ex-felons in their efforts to "re-enter" their communities.This money was earmarked for job mentoring and placement, counselling, and other social services. The Prisoner Re-entry Initiative was a product of the collaboration of the Departments of Labor, Justice, Housing and Urban Development.

2008 The Second Chance Act. 326 million targeted to local governments and non-profit organisations for various projects such as help with housing, medical assistance, substance abuse, and jobs. This act of legislation was the result of the collaborative efforts of a broad based coalition prison advocacy groups, civil rights groups, religious organisations, and law enforcement.

Sources of Information.

In order to acquire more information about federal grants there are three things to do:

  1. Search sites on line relating to this issue. However,there are numerous sites on line that come up when you search federal grants and ex-felons. In order to save time go to following : (1) The National Resource Center -- dedicated to the Second Chance Act. (2) The Department of Justice/Reentry Program These two sites will provide find all the information and resources that you need..
  2. A second source of information is to seek out sites that are specifically dedicated to ex-felons and the problems that they face. The most helpful site in this regard is
  3. Finally, for non-profit organisations and relgious groups that wish to receive federal grants find a good resource book that leads you through the process. See "Getting Grants: The Complete Manual of Proposal Development and Administration" by Alex Carter-Black.
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About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.