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The first in-unit cohort of the RISE In-Prison Program at the Nebraska State Penitentiary continues to be progressing well. This is a group of men living in an intentional learning community and going to class together.

I was having a conversation with Charles, one of our program participants in the Nebraska State Penitentiary. He asked me a common question, “what brought you here?”

Every decision we make at RISE, big and small, starts with this simple question. This is our North Star in everything we do. “What do you need?”

RISE announced a donation of $20,000 from the Medica Foundation, a community-focused giving arm of Medica funding health initiatives across Nebraska. Medica’s funding of $20,000 goes directly to supporting RISE’s In-Prison Program and Youth & Family Program. 

RISE graduates received free Tech Packs from Do Space as a means to support digital equity in Omaha. The Tech Pack program distributed laptops,Wi-Fi hotspots, free internet, computer training, and one-on-one technology tutoring - a substantial need for those coming out of incarceration.

The RISE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee invites you to recognize the Americans with Disabilities Act during July, as this directly impacts the people we work with and care about. 

The RISE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee invites you to recognize LGBTQ+ Pride Month during June, as this directly impacts the people we work with and care about.

The RISE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee invites you to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month during May, as this directly impacts the people we work with and care about.

As a creative fundraiser for the month of May, Haven Candle Co. and the RISE Alumni Association collaborated to create a custom RISE candle, “Withness.” Haven Candle Co. is a locally owned and operated business by RISE’s very own Director of Operations, Brittany Burling! With notes of oakmoss and citrus, this candle brings a safe ambiance and sparks of energy - all feelings we strive to emulate when welcoming our program participants home.

You can help make a direct impact this month!

Last week was fraught with ups and downs within the legislature for criminal justice reform advocates. From vetoes to the stalling of key legislation, senators found themselves at the center of determining the future of Nebraska’s criminal justice landscape.

From the stories of perseverance from amazing individuals to senators sharing their priorities and what they will continue to fight for, this day laid the foundation for future events to grow and become more impactful.

The RISE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee invites you to recognize National Second Chance Month and Arab-American Heritage Month during April, as these events directly impact the population we serve and care about. 

By increasing employer relationships in Omaha, Lincoln and across the state, RISE established itself as one of the leaders in the Metro area for successfully navigating employment for the formerly incarcerated.

Previously, the responsibility of self-betterment has been placed on the applicant. However, employers are beginning to ask themselves, “what can we do to help, what is our role as employers to support all applicants and the community overall?”

Nebraska needs criminal justice reform now. Our prison system is in an overcrowding crisis and we have the opportunity to do something about it. We need your help to make LB920 a reality!  

Nebraska LB 920: Focuses on reducing recidivism and reducing the number of individuals that are incarcerated in prison, while maintaining public safety. Read more about the population of Nebraska prisons and what's at stake here.

“When we try to get our lives back together and try to do right, we can’t get assistance.” - Lateeka from Lincoln

This year, the Nebraska Legislature has the chance to end Nebraska’s lifetime Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ban for individuals convicted of certain drug felonies. Senator Megan Hunt’s LB121 would do just that while making sure food benefits are available to people supporting children and families, reducing recidivism, and strengthening racial equity in our criminal justice system. This bill impacts over 1000 Nebraska families.

Contact your senator and ask them to vote yes on LB121.

RISE has always understood that to experience reentry is to experience crisis. Incarcerated individuals are often released to area communities with little to no financial support, emotional support, mental health support, or support for substance use addictions. This often leaves formerly incarcerated individuals operating in crisis mode and at a higher likelihood of reoffending.

There are so many amazing and prominent women throughout history to be celebrated and at RISE we are lucky enough to work with some of the smartest and most resilient women. While March is aimed to celebrate women, we must also recognize the struggles the women we work with can face during their lifetime and during their incarceration.

The RISE In-Prison Program continued to have programming delays in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as facilities would go into lockdowns for weeks - even months on end. However, our program participants and peer facilitators stayed focused and determined, often meeting with their fellow classmates in housing units, which allowed the program to stay on course.

RISE is celebrating African American History month this February with a formal presentation by Dr. Nikitah Imani at tomorrow's RISE all staff meeting, February 25th. 

On February 16, 2022, Jasmine L. Harris, RISE’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, graduated from Dream Corps JUSTICE’s first-ever Empathy Network Leadership Cohort.

“There are so many people who are coming out of incarceration who just need that opportunity, that chance, so something like this tax credit will get employees to say ‘well, okay, I’ll take this chance,’ and it gives the people coming out of incarceration that opportunity to say ‘I can prove to you that I’m a good worker."
- Jasmine Harris, RISE Director of Policy & Advocacy

On Friday evening, February 4th, 60 masked people crammed into the Culxr House to listen to spoken word poems, stories and reflections from the RISE Youth & Family Program participants who had just completed a six-week session on effective communication.

We are thrilled to share RISE has been selected to receive a $1,000 grant from The Starbucks Foundation as part of their Neighborhood Grants program.

Please join us for one of our upcoming RISE Annual Appreciation Breakfasts in February!

"I’m not a competition guy. I'm a creation guy...when you are competing, compete in the spirit of creation. Compete in the spirit of bringing people together united and then we can all win. We can all rise above our current circumstances.”
- RISE Graduate

We are thrilled to announce RISE's most recent team member, Emma Johnson, as the Director of Annual Giving & Stewardship!

Greater Omaha Chamber's The Conference on Opportunity, Diversity and Equity
Breakout Session 4B

Nearly one in three Americans of working age have a criminal history. This long-avoided conversation is becoming imperative to hiring practices, inclusion in the workplace and navigating diverse experiences of employees.

From tax credits, to statistically proven high retention rates, both business owners and employees win when hiring people with criminal histories. Because incarceration is often viewed as taboo, employers and employees alike are often nervous to ask questions, leading to misinformation.

During this session, attendees will:
• Gain an increased understanding on why hiring individuals with criminal histories is good for business.
• Enter a brave space while uncommon questions are answered directly from individuals with criminal histories.
• Learn about background check friendly hiring and recruiting practices.

Our panel consists of:
Erica Raetz RISE, Director of Reentry
Eduardo Gardea RISE, Employment Specialist
Demetrius Gatson RISE, Reentry Specialist
Jasmine Harris RISE, Director of Policy & Advocacy

The 6th cohort in the Omaha Correctional Center graduated from the RISE reentry program in August 2021.

We are thrilled to shared that RISE has been selected to receive a $1,000 grant from The Starbucks Foundation as a part of their Neighborhood Grants program!

April 23, 2021 via CultureFeed
Does Character Have a Role to Play in Prison Education Programs? Yes.
Character development is one of the benefits that we should pursue in more prison education programs.

We are inviting YOU to extend a helping hand on Day of Action, a community-wide giving day on April 8th, 2021. Gifts on this day help RISE continuously provide programming to people working on their second chance.

RISE is thrilled to introduce our newest board of directors.

Help RISE in Nebraska this week with this simple list of actionable items.

The cash bail system continues to perpetuate cycles of poverty and incarceration. The ability of a person to afford the amount set to be released does not predict whether a person will appear for their court date or if they are a risk to public safety. It results in people who do not have disposable income spending days to months in jail that further impacts their livelihood.

Today we honor and recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Omaha. Addition to this being an important day to observe and reflect, it's the only federal holiday designated as a day of service.

As we begin trudging through the new year we challenge you to consider change-making commitments. Lean into what fuels your fire and develop a personal mission for 2021.

When asked for reentry advice, a RISE Graduate in the community said, "Plan, plan, plan. Then be ready to change direction." While we see the pivot from Builders on a regular basis, 2020 brings incredible pivots we didn't expect.

What exactly is a RISE Builder? At RISE, we don't work with felons, prisoners, ex-cons, inmates or criminals - we work with people. Read more to learn about how language breaks down societal barriers and why we call our program participants, Builders.

As America is dealing with COVID-19, civil unrest and a great political division, we would be remiss to not mention that 2020 is an historical election year. Elections are important especially because the elected officials’ duties will include enacting policies that affect people who are currently and formerly incarcerated.

In Nebraska, people who were arrested, awaiting trial, convicted of or on probation for a misdemeanor can vote!

When a person completes their 2 year waiting period after finishing their sentence requirements, they DO NOT need documentation to prove their legal right to vote! This means just REGISTER and VOTE!

In Nebraska, people waiting in jail for release or trial are still eligible to vote.

People with felony convictions in Nebraska can vote 2 years after they complete all requirements of their sentence! This means people can vote 2 years after they are released or complete parole/probation. 

"Thanks to RISE, it pushed me to change what I saw on paper. There have been a few curves along the way and hiccups, but that's ok. I learned it's all about growing..."

Nebraska’s 106th Legislature, 2nd Session adjourned sine die on August 13th.  With the legislative session being suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reconvening in July, creating meaningful change in Nebraska’s justice system was not easy.

Help RISE in Nebraska identify and address gaps and opportunities related to the pretrial justice system.

The barriers to reentry are significant, even with a college degree.

Reentry is taxing financially, mentally, professionally, socially, and every way in between. Fortunately, RISE has some of the best supporters an organization can have. The RISE community has stepped up and out to cultivate a culture of empowerment, and for that, we're forever grateful.