July 11, 2018 – The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and Root and Rebound (R&R) are thrilled to announce a new partnership – the Southern California Reentry & Advocacy Project – that will pair comprehensive reentry support with high-quality legal services to ensure that individuals returning home from incarceration to Los Angeles County are able to live healthy, fulfilling lives, breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration.

Since its founding in 2013, ARC has demonstrated a strong track record of providing effective reentry programming and transitional services to help formerly incarcerated individuals live healthy, productive lives once released. ARC provides its formerly incarcerated members with supportive housing, mental health services, education and employment assistance, mentorship, and opportunities for civic engagement. However, ARC staff do not have the legal expertise necessary to support its members in navigating the various legal barriers to reentry documented nationally, including in the areas of identification, voting, employment, housing, public benefits, family, and education.

Without this critical piece, ARC members and other Los Angeles County residents with criminal records face challenges in several areas of life: when they try to obtain identification, access public benefits, secure employment, enroll in higher education, and reunite with their children and other members of their families. Furthermore, with only one attorney for every 8,000 indigent individuals in California, and few civil legal aid organizations offering reentry legal support, there are very few places for members to turn to for help in navigating these challenges.

To address this gap in services and critical need, ARC is partnering with Root & Rebound. Root & Rebound has a unique model that encompasses legal education, advocacy, and systems reform that fills the gap for formerly incarcerated individuals and the community-based organizations and government agencies that support them. R&R’s programs have reached over 35,000 people to date and include both in-person and online legal education and training, the first-ever reentry legal hotline, a prison letter-writing service, an online training hub, and high-impact policy advocacy.

For the Southern California Reentry & Advocacy Project, R&R, which is based in Northern California and works throughout the state, will house one staff attorney at both ARC’s downtown Los Angeles and Sylmar offices, to provide comprehensive legal support to ARC members and their families, including: reentry legal clinics; Know-Your-Rights trainings for ARC members; and legal trainings for community-based partners, law enforcement agencies, academic institutions, and workforce development partners. This partnership was made possible with critical funding from the S. Mark Taper Foundation and the Valley Community Legal Foundation of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association.

“The Valley Community Legal Foundation is pleased and excited to provide financial support to the Southern California Reentry and Advocacy Project, and especially its Sylmar location, assisting the legal needs of reentry individuals and helping them reacclimate into our Southern California valley community, so they can lead constructive and productive lives,” said Laurence N. Kaldor, President of the Valley Community Legal Foundation.

To lead this partnership, R&R has hired Nicole Jeong as the Reentry Attorney and Manager of Southern California Partnerships. Nicole received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2011. Prior to joining R&R, Nicole was a staff attorney in the Pro Bono Department at Legal Services NYC, the largest provider of civil legal services in the country. Nicole was also a general litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York and Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles, as well as a law clerk to the Honorable Jesus G. Bernal of the Central District of California. During law school, Nicole participated in the Community Reentry Clinic, worked as a summer law clerk at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, and served as an editor on the Yale Law Journal and Yale Journal of Law & Feminism. Nicole received her B.A., magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Southern California. She is an attorney licensed to practice in California and New York.

Katherine Katcher, Founder and Executive Director of Root & Rebound, shared her enthusiasm for the collaboration: “ARC is a dream partner for our organization for their high-quality services and support and the wonderful community they have created. We feel so lucky and honored to be working alongside and in partnership with them. Together, we look forward to both serving their members and providing greater capacity building resources and trainings for the wider Southern California community.”

ARC Executive Director Shaka Senghor shared, “We are excited to work in unison with Root and Rebound and look forward to fostering a long-term relationship that allows our organization to better serve our members. It’s a great day when two organizations collaborate to create pathways to success for the women, men, and families they serve. Nicole’s presence in our office provides ARC with the confidence that we can meet the legal needs of our members, ensuring their success.”

ARC and R&R are thrilled to announce this partnership to advance the civil rights of Southern Californians impacted by incarceration and empower formerly incarcerated individuals to live healthy, successful lives upon returning home.

For questions about the Southern California Reentry & Advocacy Project or opportunities to get involved, please contact Nicole Jeong at [email protected].

The S. Mark Taper Foundation, founded in 1989, is a private family foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of people’s lives by supporting nonprofit organizations and their work in our communities.

The mission of the Valley Community Legal Foundation is to support law-related programs that assist children, families, domestic violence victims and those in need; enhance community access to the courts; provide educational opportunities and scholarships to students who demonstrate a commitment to law-related studies; and, recognize and honor the achievements of law enforcement and firefighters.