Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, November 26, 2021

Project Return opens Chattanooga office

Project Return Chattanooga CEO Bettie Kirkland speaks at a reception celebrating the opening of the nonprofit’s local office. - Photograph provided

Project Return, a Tennessee nonprofit dedicated to helping people return to the community after incarceration and avoid recidivism, has opened an office in Chattanooga at 620 Lindsay Street.

“Our mission is to provide reentry services for our program participants who have chosen to improve their own lives and communities,” says Project Return Chattanooga CEO Bettie Kirkland. “Our decision to expand our services to Chattanooga was inspired by the strong support we received from local leaders, including state legislators, the city and county mayors’ offices and the business community.”

Founded in Nashville in 1979, Project Return has helped thousands of men and women find employment and establish stable lives. In 2021, Project Return program participants have an 82% job acquisition rate and a 13% recidivism rate, compared to state and national averages exceeding 50%.

“The impact on families is going to be fantastic,” Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly says. “This is a great opportunity for employers. We all know where we are with the labor shortages, and with Project Return’s tried and true program, you have a labor pool and you’re helping the community.”

Project Return’s decision to expand to Chattanooga was made in part due to the area’s growing local economy and the strong entrepreneurial identity of its business community, Kirkland adds.

Project Return operates an employment-creating social enterprise known as PROe, which is a staffing company that offers participants their first job after incarceration while staffing the worksites of area employers.

Local corporate supporters of Project Return Chattanooga include Chattanooga Gas and Unum.

“Chattanooga Gas invests in organizations that share our values,” says Tiffany Callaway-Ferrell, vice president of operations for Chattanooga Gas. “Project Return’s efforts to help people transition from prison to the workforce is the kind of work the Chattanooga Gas Foundation is looking to support.”

Source: Project Return