Individuals who have come into contact with the criminal justice system are often overwhelmed by the transition out of prison, but 2nd Call is making the return home a lot easier. The community-based nonprofit assists in the personal and professional development of high-risk individuals, proven offenders, ex-felons, parolees and others who society disregards. Over the last 15 years, 2nd Call has cultivated a team of leaders who themselves were once justice-involved and so are able to use their experience to win the trust of participants, helping them stay on the path toward success. Now, the Michelson 20MM Foundation is proud to award a Phase 3 Michelson Spark Grant to 2nd Call in support of their workforce programming efforts.

2nd Call’s model for success hinges on trauma-informed care services such as counseling and classes in anger management and domestic violence. Research shows that during times of stress the brain’s hippocampus attempts to reduce pain by producing cortisol, which causes changes in gene expression that can be deleterious to mental well-being and passed on from generation to generation. Trauma-informed care services allow participants to properly address their mental health concerns, including depression and PTSD, so they can advance in their careers and form better familial bonds. 

With a focus on careers over jobs, 2nd Call also offers a comprehensive and holistic approach to workforce development that includes job readiness, retention, life skills, and parenting. Additionally, the organization hosts classes and fellowships that equip justice-involved individuals with the necessary skills to pursue careers as union electricians, carpenters, and other highly-paid union professionals. Their tailored intervention programs promote character and professional growth, offering members alternatives to violence and abuse.

The COVID-19 public health crisis is presenting challenges to the interpersonal connection work that is critical for stable reentry and career development. This Phase 3 Michelson Spark Grant supports 2nd Call in fulfilling their mission by:

  • Ensuring persistence in life skills, workforce development and trauma-informed care programs for participants.
  • Providing access to trauma-informed care and healing programs using online platforms.
  • Working with the Michelson 20MM digital inequity team to ensure participants have access to devices, high-speed internet connections, digital literacy, and IT support to continue engaging in services while stay-at-home orders are in place.
  • Emphasizing mental health interventions that help participants navigate the current COVID-19 context and prepare them to successfully return to their communities.

The transition out of prison is never without complications, but 2nd Call provides much-needed support for a positive reentry. “The initiative was launched to help former gang members find jobs, but has since evolved into a community and way of life for its participants, with many continuing to engage in fellowship opportunities years after they’ve come home,” says Skipp Townsend, the organization’s Executive Director.

2nd Call’s mission is well-aligned with the Michelson 20MM Foundation’s Smart Justice goal of improving employment, career, and workforce outcomes for justice-involved individuals by connecting participants to high growth, high earning potential opportunities. We are thrilled that this grant will support the organization in furthering our shared objectives. 

“There are more than 2.4 million people in prison in the United States today,” says Gary K. Michelson, M.D., founder of Michelson 20MM. “Most are getting out. Most are going back. Why? A lack of education, a lack of marketable skills, a lack of opportunity, a lack of resources, a lack of social support, and in some cases, a lack of social skills and self regulation. 2nd Call checks all of those boxes, meets all of those needs. When you save someone from a life of prison, you save a life. Saving a life is a miracle. If we could scale 2nd Call, we could not only empty the prisons, we could close them.”

The Michelson 20MM Foundation and its initiatives are made possible by the generous support of Gary K. Michelson, M.D. and his wife, Alya Michelson. We will be holding a future funding round focused on our Smart Justice initiative in July. To learn more please visit our webpage or sign up for notifications using the form below.