My name is Nicholas Collard, I am a junior economics-mathematics major interested in issues surrounding justice and incarceration. During the 2018 fall semester I interned at the STAR (Successful Transition and Re-Entry) Project, a local reentry organization serving people with felony convictions in Walla Walla and Columbia Counties. In the era of mass incarceration, reentry is a critical area of support for those systematically disenfranchised by the prison system. High levels of recidivism nationwide are indicative of the significant barriers faced by those with a felony conviction, particularly in finding housing and employment. Furthermore, legal financial obligations, mental health/drug issues, and difficulty adjusting to autonomy post-release compound to inhibit justice-involved individuals’ reintegration into the community.
STAR works to combat these adverse forces by providing a holistic support structure that gives clients access to necessary resources and helps them achieve self-subsistence. STAR is comprised of four main programs: Pre-Release Transition, Case Management, Housing, and Employment. Staff in each program collaborate closely with one another to assess clients’ individual needs and to provide the most well-integrated service possible. Through its main programs and auxiliary assistance, STAR is able to help reduce it’s clients’ recidivism to under half the state average.
My time at STAR has been focused on grant seeking and grant writing. A large component of nonprofit work is securing funding to continue operations or to build capacity. The sustainability of STAR’s level of service is achieved through consistent, proactive grant seeking. STAR’s programs are mainly funded through local, state, and federal grants with a small amount of funding coming from direct public support. Charitable grants were an area of funding generally untapped by STAR, and were my main focus in grant seeking throughout the semester. A plethora of grantmaking interests apply to STAR: from health and poverty alleviation to education and community safety; finding and curating a list of well-matched grants dominated the majority of my time at the office. In addition, I worked closely with the executive director on a number of grant applications to close out the 2018 grantmaking cycle and to begin work on early 2019 grants.
Interning at STAR has been wonderful; the experience I have gained in grant work and nonprofit operation in general has been extremely valuable. STAR is an organization doing vital work in Walla Walla; their model of reentry is unique and in-line with best practices in the field. I appreciate the staff for the work they do and allowing me to come on for the semester.