Nonprofit that provides affordable housing and job placement to the previously incarcerated celebrates first-ever expansion with reception featuring Mayor Tim Kelly and State Senator Bo Watson
Project Return, a Tennessee nonprofit dedicated to helping people successfully return to the community after incarceration and avoid recidivism, recently opened a new office in Chattanooga at 620 Lindsay Street, Suite 100. The milestone was celebrated today with a reception featuring remarks from Project Return Chief Executive Officer Bettie Kirkland, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, and Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson.
“Our mission is to provide necessary, impactful reentry services for our program participants who have chosen to improve their own lives and communities,” said Kirkland. “Our decision to expand our services to Chattanooga was inspired by the strong support we received from local leaders, including state legislators, the city and county mayors’ offices, and the business community.”
Founded in Nashville in 1979, Project Return has helped thousands of men and women find employment and establish stable lives, all while maintaining its inclusive, productive relationships with its program participants, employment partners and supporters. In 2021, Project Return program participants have an 82% job acquisition rate and a 13% recidivism rate, compared to state and national averages exceeding 50%.
“The impact on families is just going to be fantastic. We’re so, so glad that you [Project Return] are here and will help you in any way we can,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “I should say to the employers who may be listening […]: What a great opportunity. We all know where we are with the labor shortages, and with Project Return’s tried and true program, you have a labor pool and you’re helping the community.”
Project Return’s decision to expand to Chattanooga was made in part due to the area’s growing local economy and the strong entrepreneurial identity of its business community. Project Return operates an employment creating social enterprise known as PROe, which is a high-quality staffing company, offering participants their best first job after incarceration, while staffing the worksites of area employers with motivated workers.
Local corporate supporters of Project Return Chattanooga include Chattanooga Gas and Unum. “Chattanooga Gas is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we honor that commitment by investing in organizations that share our values,” said Tiffany Callaway-Ferrell, Vice President of Operations for Chattanooga Gas. “Project Return’s efforts to help people successfully transition from prison to the workforce is exactly the kind of work the Chattanooga Gas Foundation is looking to support. This donation will help ensure that those who are returning from incarceration get the second chance they deserve to support their families and live a life of dignity.”
In addition to their Chattanooga expansion, Project Return also recently relocated their Nashville headquarters to 109 Lafayette Street, celebrating the move in October with a reception where Nashville Mayor John Cooper recognized Project Return’s contributions to the local community. Both recent expansions mark important milestones as Project Return’s continued successes attract greater numbers of supporters and prospective participants.