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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

July 2016

Discussion Recap: Developing a Local Strategy to Address System Barriers to Employment

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) and the Reentry Roundtable hosted three conversations focusing on addressing system barriers to employment for persons who are homeless and/or have criminal backgrounds. The first meeting focused on building understanding about the current local climate and identifying potential opportunities and strengths to build on, the second meeting was a conversation with previously incarcerated individuals in Austin about the barriers they face regarding employment, and the third meeting was an interactive session to identify strategies to address barriers to employment in three breakout areas: 1) Organizational Policy Changes 2) Employer Engagement and 3) Local and Regional Advocacy Efforts. As a result of these discussions, ECHO and the Roundtable have developed strategies to address the barriers that many individuals face in our community. Participants also pledged to continue their work in the community and to continue to collaborate with each other to provide as many resources as they can for individuals who face these employment barriers. A summary of feedback from the forums and the proposed strategies moving forward will be sent out next week! 

Lauren Johnson, Advocacy Fellow, Featured in the Statesman

Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable Advocacy Fellow Lauren Johnson wrote an op-ed in the Statesman focusing on humanizing those with criminal records. Lauren addresses how the use of terms like "felon" are dehumanizing, and she points out that many people return from prison fully rehabilitated and that treating each person with dignity actually helps make communities feel safer. The op-ed goes on to cover voting rights for previously incarcerated individuals and the conditions that they often return to after being released. To read the full op-ed click here

Featured Reentry Advocacy Project Member: Annette Price


Name: Annette Price

What drives your passion and makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? Knowing that God is always with me helps me to get up and face each new day. I know there will be trials on some days but my faith carries me through. I'm grateful to be able to wake up to a new day and make my own decisions.

Why do you participate in the Reentry Advocacy Project? I participate in RAP because we have a common goal to make a difference for those returning to society. I am among like minded individuals that are inspiring, ambitious, and nonjudgmental. We understand all too well the challenges we face daily and are here for support. Everyone has a voice which can be heard at RAP.

What words of wisdom do you have for others leaving incarceration? Words of wisdom? Take time to find out who you are and set obtainable goals. Don’t feel pressured to conquer every task in one day. When doors close because of your background don't give up. Keep pushing forward until the right door opens to an array of opportunities. Stay in your process. It will come to pass at the right time.

Reentry Advocacy Project Member Lewis Conway Releases His New Book: Change the Whether, Beyond the Storm

Congratulations to RAP member, Lewis Conway on the release of his second book in the series "Change The Whether: Beyond the Storm." The book grapples with topics like the systemic alienation of communities of color and the disproportionate negative impact of mass incarceration on those same communities; captured through the lens of personal redemption, prison reform and citizen reentry. A book release and signing event was held on June 17th, followed by a panel discussion titled The Reentry Paradigm. The panel discussion was thoughtful and rich! Lewis Conway currently works as a Criminal Justice Associate at Grassroots Leadership supporting local criminal justice work, including outreach and planning for Texas Advocates for Justice. Mr. Conway hopes to continue to have community discussions that will help to move the conversation forward in the future. His dream is to get copies of his inspirational book into prisons across Texas! 

Texas Advocates for Justice Community Organizing and Leadership Training Opportunity 

Grassroots Leadership is seeking participants for an upcoming Texas Advocates for Justice community organizing and leadership training. They are looking for members of the community who have been incarcerated and their families who want to learn how to make real criminal justice change in Travis County. TAJ believes that formerly incarcerated individuals, together with their families, should lead the movement for criminal justice reform in Texas. The intensive community organizing and leadership trainings are designed to build on the expertise, experience, and powerful commitment of people who have been directly affected by incarceration. Graduates of the training become members of an action network where they can put training into practice and advance the mission of ending the criminalization of our communities. Graduates will receive a $100 stipend for participating. Meetings will be held in Austin and will provide simultaneous Spanish/English interpretation. Click for the training flyer in English and Spanish
Date: Tuesday, July 12th,19th, 26th -  Aug 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd
Time: 6pm - 8:30pm

Graduation Ceremony 
Date: Saturday, Aug 27th
Time: TBD

To apply online, applicants can fill out a short application (Spanish or English) by clicking here.
To submit a paper application, applicants can fill out the application and email or mail it to:
Jorge Renaud
Grassroots Leadership
2301 East Cesar Chavez Street
Austin, TX

ECHO Releases a Report on the Needs and Gaps for the Homeless Population


ECHO recently released a report on the needs and gaps of the homeless population. The report provides an in depth view of the many variables involved in community homelessness in Travis County, making a compelling moral and fiscal argument for the permanent supportive housing model. This is a visual report that describes 1) the number and characteristics of the homeless population in Austin and Travis County, 2) their current needs, 3) current community public investments to address homelessness, 4) gaps in services, and 5) what are seen as the main trends and takeaways. You can read the report in its entirety here.

2016 CAN Community Dashboard Shows Crime Rate Decrease


The Community Advancement Network has released their seventh annual CAN Dashboard, a report that provides a snapshot of the social, health, educational and economic well-being of Central Texans by tracking 17 community-wide indicators. This report includes sections on crime and disproportionality highlighting community data, the indicators behind the data, local efforts to improve the indicators found, and a look at how the indicators effect vulnerable populations. Travis County’s overall crime rate dropped by 10% from 2013 to 2014, far exceeding the community goal of a 1% annual reduction in crime. In 2014 Travis County had the lowest violent crime rate of the six largest Texas urban counties, and the overall crime rate continued its year-over-year decline. You can read through the report here.

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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable · Palm Square · 100 North Interstate 35 · Austin, TX 78701 · USA

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