Polaris MEP, Partners Receive Federal Grant to Create Comprehensive, Reentry “Pathway Home”

Home / News / Polaris MEP, Partners Receive Federal Grant to Create Comprehensive, Reentry “Pathway Home”

by | Jul 11, 2024

by | Jul 11, 2024

On July 2, 2024, the US Department of Labor announced the awards of more than $56 million in grants to help justice-involved people get needed job training and improve reentry, including $1,454,078 million to Polaris MEP for a program designed to reduce recividism through a combination of comprehensive support services and high-skills manufacturing training.

With the award, Polaris MEP and partners from across the state, including government, higher education, community based organizations and industry will assist up to 150 eligible incarcerated individuals enter manufacturing career pathways that result in high-quality paying jobs and reduce the rate of recidivism.

Polaris MEP is a non-profit business unit of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation and an affiliate of National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP).

For several years, the consultancy has been focused on meeting the workforce demands of Ocean State manufacturing employers by expanding the traditional pipeline to include underserved communities such as the justice-involved.

In 2022, Polaris MEP and partner Community College of Rhode Island launched a “Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing” demonstration project within the Women’s Correctional Facility. With the Pathway Home grant from the US Department of Labor, the new program will expand both the number of people served and coalesce partners (see list below) into a more comprehensive, client-centered career pathway approach that serves both reentry candidates and employers.

Here’s a sampling of what elected officials, partners and industry leaders are saying:

U.S. Senator Jack Reed: “This federal funding will help Rhode Island study best practices to prepare incarcerated individuals for successful employment upon their release. Helping ex-offenders gain in-demand skills and matching them with businesses looking to hire puts them on the path to success, boosting our economy and strengthening our communities.”

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island: “Rhode Island has led the way in providing formerly incarcerated individuals with the skills and resources they need to land a well-paying job. This federal funding will support Rhode Island’s efforts to reduce recidivism by helping individuals who have served their time return home as successful members of the community.”

U.S. Representative Seth Magaziner: “Reentry programs provide a second chance for formerly incarcerated individuals in Rhode Island and can help them gain skills, find a career and rebuild their lives. This federal funding will go toward job training programs and services that will both improve public safety and grow the economy.”

U.S. Representative Gabe Amo: “Investing in proven strategies that help justice-involved individuals find high-quality jobs in our community helps break the destructive cycles of poverty and incarceration. By supporting these important efforts, this federal investment will both support our local economy and provide a helping hand to returning citizens as they strive for a better future.”

Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training José Javier Rodríguez: “The Pathway Home grants we announced today will allow justice-involved individuals to get the training they need to secure good jobs as they re-enter their communities following a term of incarceration. “The Biden-Harris administration recognizes that our communities are safer when formerly incarcerated Americans have access to good jobs. These grants enable participants to begin skills training before their release, better preparing them to start their new lives.”

Governor Dan McKee: “Rhode Island is grateful for this grant, which will result in helping incarcerated individuals gain the skills they need to find employment and successfully integrate back into the community.”

Wayne T. Salisbury Jr., Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections: “At the Department of Corrections, we are working with variety of partners to ensure the incarcerated population has the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to attain meaningful employment and compete in the workforce upon release. This grant will further enhance our ability as a state to remove barriers to employment and support those preparing to reenter the community. We are fortunate our congressional and state leaders recognize how vital such opportunities are to the success of this untapped segment of today’s workforce.”

Rhode Island Pathway Home Program Network

Polaris MEP is grateful to have the support and collaboration of partners from across the state, all committed to building a sustainable system of support for justice-involved individuals. (Note: some may participate only on an ad hoc basis to support execution of activities.)

State Agency

Reentry Community Initiatives & Case Management

Training Providers 

Institutions of Higher Education (credentials earned, college credits)


Industry, Business Support Organizations

Community Resource Providers / Organizations (addressing housing stability, food security and transportation barriers)


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