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Fortune Academic Celebrates 10 Years!

The Fortune Academy, a phased-permanent supportive housing facility for formerly incarcerated men and women based in West Harlem, celebrated its Tenth Anniversary Monday evening, June 18th. Read more...


The Fortune Academy, a phased-permanent supportive housing facility for formerly incarcerated men and women based in West Harlem, celebrated its Tenth Anniversary Monday evening, June 18th. The Academy is part of the Fortune Society, a community-based organization that provides wraparound services  to men and women returning from prison, usually with a history of addiction, to help them to successfully reenter society and realize their potential as individuals and citizens.   The Anniversary was a gala affair.  Elected officials Keith Wright, Robert Jackson and Speaker Christine Quinn sent  their congratulations.  Speakers included  Jim McGreevey, the former governor of NJ;  David Rothenberg, the Fortune Society founder , and a host of alumni  from  the Academy who spoke about the remarkably successful lives they have created upon leaving the Academy.  In the audience were ten members of the Fortune Academy Participatory Action Research (PAR) Team; co-researchers include TC-ICCCR faculty, staff and students who partner with staff, clients and executives of the Fortune Society. The ICCCR was delighted to support  the PAR team’s  attendance at this fundraising event.

 The Academy  provides  housing  for Fortune Society clients who would otherwise be homeless.  It creates  an environment – part laboratory, part family –where individuals can create a future without  criminal involvement.  The Academy encourages former residents to “give back”;  many return as staff members  in order to help others who have to go a greater distance in transforming their lives.

The PAR team is carefully documenting the culture of the Fortune Academy (e.g., philosophy, policies and practices) through a range of different methodologies (archival data; interviews; observation), and assessing  the impact of the culture on the “success” of residents after leaving the Academy.   There are several goals for this research:  to provide data with which Fortune can strengthen what works well and improve what doesn’t;  to provide a blueprint for other  CBOs who want to replicate the best features of the Academy;  and to create knowledge about how the Academy culture facilitates individual change (e.g., the success of the “zero tolerance for violence” policy.)

 A video feed from the Anniversary event featuring the Academy’s alumni speakers will be made available to the PAR team to supplement other data they are collecting about the lives of alums (e.g.,  interviews ; data on outcomes, such as living arrangements, sobriety and connections in the community; criminal justice involvement; etc.)

The ICCCR- Fortune Society partnership goes back more than a decade.  Most recently, a team at the ICCCR , led by Claudia Cohen, Associate Director, created two Toolkits, funded by the US Dept. of Justice and in collaboration with the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College.  The Toolkits documented “best practices” of the Fortune Society.  The first describes how they overcame NIMBY  (“Not In My Back Yard”) pressure in West Harlem when siting the Fortune Academy . (Click http://www.tc.columbia.edu/i/a/document/18753_TOOL-KIT-1-NIMBY_FINAL.pdf for Toolkit 1) The second highlights Fortune’s commitment to hiring those with a history of incarceration and/or substance abuse and documents the development processes and structures  Fortune has created to support these staff members.  These hiring and development  policies provide both role models - with relevant lived experience - for  current clients,  and job opportunities and training for formally incarcerated individuals. (Click http://www.tc.columbia.edu/i/a/document/18754_Employingyourmission.pdf for Toolkit 2.)
 
 

Published Thursday, Jun. 21, 2012

Fortune Academic Celebrates 10 Years!



The Fortune Academy, a phased-permanent supportive housing facility for formerly incarcerated men and women based in West Harlem, celebrated its Tenth Anniversary Monday evening, June 18th. The Academy is part of the Fortune Society, a community-based organization that provides wraparound services  to men and women returning from prison, usually with a history of addiction, to help them to successfully reenter society and realize their potential as individuals and citizens.   The Anniversary was a gala affair.  Elected officials Keith Wright, Robert Jackson and Speaker Christine Quinn sent  their congratulations.  Speakers included  Jim McGreevey, the former governor of NJ;  David Rothenberg, the Fortune Society founder , and a host of alumni  from  the Academy who spoke about the remarkably successful lives they have created upon leaving the Academy.  In the audience were ten members of the Fortune Academy Participatory Action Research (PAR) Team; co-researchers include TC-ICCCR faculty, staff and students who partner with staff, clients and executives of the Fortune Society. The ICCCR was delighted to support  the PAR team’s  attendance at this fundraising event.

 The Academy  provides  housing  for Fortune Society clients who would otherwise be homeless.  It creates  an environment – part laboratory, part family –where individuals can create a future without  criminal involvement.  The Academy encourages former residents to “give back”;  many return as staff members  in order to help others who have to go a greater distance in transforming their lives.

The PAR team is carefully documenting the culture of the Fortune Academy (e.g., philosophy, policies and practices) through a range of different methodologies (archival data; interviews; observation), and assessing  the impact of the culture on the “success” of residents after leaving the Academy.   There are several goals for this research:  to provide data with which Fortune can strengthen what works well and improve what doesn’t;  to provide a blueprint for other  CBOs who want to replicate the best features of the Academy;  and to create knowledge about how the Academy culture facilitates individual change (e.g., the success of the “zero tolerance for violence” policy.)

 A video feed from the Anniversary event featuring the Academy’s alumni speakers will be made available to the PAR team to supplement other data they are collecting about the lives of alums (e.g.,  interviews ; data on outcomes, such as living arrangements, sobriety and connections in the community; criminal justice involvement; etc.)

The ICCCR- Fortune Society partnership goes back more than a decade.  Most recently, a team at the ICCCR , led by Claudia Cohen, Associate Director, created two Toolkits, funded by the US Dept. of Justice and in collaboration with the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College.  The Toolkits documented “best practices” of the Fortune Society.  The first describes how they overcame NIMBY  (“Not In My Back Yard”) pressure in West Harlem when siting the Fortune Academy . (Click http://www.tc.columbia.edu/i/a/document/18753_TOOL-KIT-1-NIMBY_FINAL.pdf for Toolkit 1) The second highlights Fortune’s commitment to hiring those with a history of incarceration and/or substance abuse and documents the development processes and structures  Fortune has created to support these staff members.  These hiring and development  policies provide both role models - with relevant lived experience - for  current clients,  and job opportunities and training for formally incarcerated individuals. (Click http://www.tc.columbia.edu/i/a/document/18754_Employingyourmission.pdf for Toolkit 2.)
 
 
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