Damascus Way is thrilled to announce that we have received a generous grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation (RMSFF). Working with charities and nonprofits serving in the greater Twin Cities area, the Foundation works both locally and nationally to help families become more self-sufficient through food and housing assistance. Additionally, the Foundation has come alongside families during times of serious medical need. RMSFF began about 18 years ago (2004) when Dick Schulze, the founder of “Best Buy” instituted the Foundation as a way of giving back to the community. The vision of RMSFF is built upon the belief that “education, a supportive family and a strong work ethic prepare children for a successful future.” In the hope of bolstering this vision, the Foundation seeks to collaborate with and fund nonprofits in various related fields.

Damascus Way Reentry Center extends our sincerest words of gratitude to the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation for their gift of $20,000 in grant funding to be used by our organization between 2022 and 2023. We are thoroughly grateful to the Foundation’s commitment to supporting and serving individuals participating in our reentry services. This financial backing will be essential in facilitating the continued success of our statewide programs.

In brief, we’d like to share about how Damascus Way will seek to utilize this grant funding from 2022 to 2023. Among other things, this grant will help position Damascus Way to support and equip our residents with the knowledge and skills needed to become steady and long-term home buyers. Studies have shown that housing insecurity is “associated with an increased risk of recidivism” (Jacobs and Gottlieb). Steady, affordable housing access and ultimately home ownership in particular go a long way in breaking cycles of recidivism and rebuilding broken family systems. Individuals with felonies on their records often face significant barriers to housing, such as loans for property purchases. In fact, in some studies, access to housing has been shown to be a greater impediment than employment. In the final analysis, we know that housing security is a preeminent factor in remediating recidivism.

With this grant, Damascus Way will work to assist men in several key areas that will help move them along on their trajectory towards home ownership. With the cooperation of qualified partners and facilitators, Damascus Way will focus on the following outcome areas: helping residents open credit card accounts and assisting men in identifying and eliminating outstanding restitution debt, while also providing access to financial literacy courses offered by a financial institute. At the conclusion of these training opportunities, our program participants will have access to a realtor, who will begin to guide them through potential avenues for home ownership.

As we have just outlined, this grant along with the work of our other partners, will be used for financial literacy training. Damascus Way also envisions these dollars supporting our forthcoming fatherhood programming (Destiny Dads) as we hope to rebuild relationships between children and fathers, particularly those who have been incarcerated. The health and prosperity of family systems, which includes access to housing, is another critical key to the reduction of recidivism.

Among other usages, this $20,000 grant will position Damascus to support the growth of life skills for our residents such as housing acquisition. Ultimately this is about restoring and reinvesting in our communities in order to build trust, opportunity, connection and generational prosperity.

We look forward to sharing our progress on these action items during the next year and we hope to continue to maintain a relationship between Damascus Way Reentry Center and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. We are tremendously indebted to their support of the work we are doing to reduce recidivism.

Thank you once again for your commitment to supporting reentry programs like Damascus Way and the men we serve!