The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), which provides subsidized employment and other services to individuals who have recently returned home from incarceration, launched the Returning Citizens Stimulus (RCS) program in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided three monthly cash transfers to people who were recently released from incarceration in 28 cities across the United States to ease their transition into society at a time of social distress and high unemployment.
CEO launched the RCS program with an investment from the Justice and Mobility Fund, a collaboration of The Ford Foundation and Blue Meridian Partners with support from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. CEO and 32 partner reentry organizations are implementing RCS in locations nationwide. The program leveraged CEO’s existing pay card system to deliver three monthly “stimulus” payments totaling at least $2,250 to individuals who participate in services designed to facilitate successful reentry.
In August 2020, CEO and local partner organizations expanded RCS in California to provide three monthly payments totaling $1,500 to an additional 1,000 citizens returning from incarceration under the Returning Home Well initiative, which provides housing, health care, treatment, transportation, direct assistance, and employment support for Californians returning home from prison.
MDRC is conducting a study of the RCS program in a subset of cities. Early results are expected in mid-2021.