Teamwork Englewood provides services and advocacy for returning citizens. Our strategy seeks to improve conditions for our clients by reducing and eliminating the gap between release from incarceration and employment, allowing for optimal reintegration into society. Since 2017, we have developed four different programs for working with our reentry community: Employment assistance, Legal advocacy and services, and Expunging and Sealing criminal records.
We work with our clients to help them find employers who will hire people with involvement in the criminal justice system. We have partnerships with many employers around the city and the Chicagoland area, and in the past four years we have helped 1,500 returning citizens find employment. In certain cases, our clients are placed with mentors who have themselves been successful in their reentry efforts.
We developed our Know Your Rights program with First Defense Legal Aid, and we have trained our staff and many of our clients in the curriculum. We teach people their rights when being stopped by the police or when at a police station. We have distributed this knowledge through trainings and brochures far and wide across the city, and we estimate that we have reached at least 5,000 people since we began the program.
Teamwork Englewood has created a legal support space for residents. Throughout the year we hire residents and local businesses to conduct community outreach around common legal issues. In addition we also have staff on site that can help residents get access to free legal support. Our Legal clinic specializes in expungement for individuals that qualify. For more information contact Mykia Merchant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To increase our ability to expunge and seal criminal records, TWE Reentry developed and co-led the Get Cleared campaign starting in May 2018. In this program we were able to revolutionize the process of expunging and sealing client records, resulting in the filing of over 200 pro se petitions. We have worked with the County Clerk’s office on multiple Expungement Day Summits to file an additional 250 petitions since May 2018.
We developed our Community Navigators program in late 2019 and implemented it in 2020. In this program we use the model of train the trainers: we hire and train several community members in topics ranging from how to navigate homelessness and housing issues to criminal record relief for marijuana charges. Each month these navigators learn about the topics and then host their own trainings to pass on vital knowledge to the Englewood community and surrounding communities.