The Foundation’s effective use of evaluation has been featured in a graduate level textbook entitled The Practice of Evaluation: Partnership Approaches for Community Change published last month. A chapter on Empowerment Evaluation uses the example of the Worcester Initiative for Supported Reentry (WISR) project, one of the Foundation’s Round 3 Synergy Initiative projects. The chapter was co-authored by Dr. Pam Imm (evaluation consultant to the Foundation), Dr. Mary Brolin (WISR project evaluator), Ms. Opal Stone (WISR project manager) and Dr. Jan Yost, (Foundation president).
WISR achieved its goal of reducing recidivism among men and women who were formerly incarcerated, thereby improving public safety and public health. The recidivism rate among WISR participants three years post-release was 20.8%, a reduction of 47% relative to a historical comparison group. This decrease in recidivism led to a savings of more than $375,000 for a 59% return on investment based on one-year incarceration costs.
WISR’s advocacy efforts resulted in reentry programming being included in the state’s 2018 Criminal Justice Reform legislation. The state subsequently allocated $7 million in FY 19-21 to pilot reentry services in Worcester and Middlesex Counties.