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Special Recognition Award

For the formerly incarcerated, the release from prison brings new challenges. Faced with landlords leery of renting, employers reticent to hire, neighborhoods hesitant to extend a welcome, too often these men and women end up back behind locked gates. For those lucky enough to find St. Leonard’s Ministries, the future holds more promise.

For more than 52 years, St. Leonard’s has offered formerly incarcerated individuals a real chance at a better life. St. Leonard’s began as a modest halfway house with bed space and counseling services for a small number of men. Program participants received the skills and referrals they needed to survive in Chicago upon their release. Responding to the growing numbers and needs of those they served, St. Leonard’s added additional and varied housing to their portfolio, providing both temporary housing at St. Leonard’s House and Grace House and longer term housing at St. Andrew’s Court where shelter is combined with supportive services.

St. Leonard’s newest project, the Michael Barlow Center, an employment training and placement facility built on the West Side campus, is the latest example of their commitment to addressing the barriers faced by formerly incarcerated individuals. Here men and women find skills training classes, alternative high school, extensive tutoring opportunities, and the counseling and job development services they need to re-enter the labor force. And here, too, through St. Leonard’s partnerships and reputation, men and women find links to employers who are willing to take a chance on them.

For its leadership in the community, its cutting edge programs and for its unquestioned success, St. Leonard’s Ministries becomes the first recipient of the new CNDA Special Recognition Award.