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The Interfaith Center of New York

The Interfaith Center focuses on helping people from a wide variety of religious and spiritual backgrounds to exist peacefully in New York. In addition to educational and interfaith offerings, the ICNY also works to support parolees reentering society, a project they do in partnership with the Harlem Community Justice Center and the J.C. Flowers Foundation.

Back in 2010, the J.C. Flowers Foundation (a charitable organization created by J. Christopher Flowers of J.C. Flowers & Co.) was asked to help fund the ICNY’s pilot program to assist Harlem parolees returning to society after incarceration. Most of these individuals are young men of color who are released into an environment full of poverty, unemployment, and unstable housing. Because of this, 30% end up back in prison within a year of release, and 42% go back within three years.

In fact, Manhattan as a whole has the highest number of parolees of any county in the US—more than 2,200 a year. One seven-block area in Harlem is actually called a “re-entry corridor,” where one in twenty men has been incarcerated.

The ICNY found Harlem to be a great place to initiate the program because not only did it face the need, it had a strong grassroots presence of community members wanting to be involved. Those community members provide a wide variety of supportive services for parolees wanting to reintegrate into society:

  • Accompanying parolees home from prison and welcoming them back into their communities
  • Accompanying parolees to appointments (job interviews, etc.)
  • Creating child-friendly play spaces that parolees can enjoy with their children, including offering tutoring and childcare when parents have court dates
  • Helping parolees become job-ready with resumes, mock interviews, and more
  • Running support groups
  • Connecting parolees and their families with community services through resource fairs and referrals

Through partnerships and a local focus, the ICNY is working hard to promote tolerance and acceptance in New York City.

Learn more about the ICNY here.