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The Gordon Bernell Charter School is the only school in the state that works specifically to improve the literacy levels of people who are, or were, involved in the justice system.
But several other programs work with this population, mostly on life and job skills training.
Individuals who need help with basic literacy skills are often referred into any number of adult education programs around the state.
Among the available programs are:
• Wings for L.I.F.E. (Life skills Imparted to Families through Education) works with justice-involved individuals and their families to help break the generational cycle of incarceration, with programs in jobs, financial literacy, parenting/communication, and issues unique to incarceration. It also connects adults and children with tutors and adult education programs within the community.
For further information, visit wingsfli.org or call (505) 291-6412.
• Best Chance is a local peer-led, clinically supervised nonprofit that serves nearly 300 people per year, helping them transition to “life on the outside” by encouraging meaningful employment and the ability to cope with stress. Services include peer support and transition planning, help with obtaining and paying for IDs, provision of clothing, hygiene and other essentials, transportation, brain injury screening, life skills training, meals, and referrals to outside agencies and organizations for education and other needs. For further information, go to bestchancenm.org or call (505) 256-3231.
• Crossroads for Women is an Albuquerque-based nonprofit that provides comprehensive integrated services to empower women emerging from incarceration. Among the services are transitional and permanent supportive housing, trauma-informed therapeutic services and peer-support services to help women, and women with children learn the coping skills needed to maintain life recovery. For more information, go to crossroadsabq.org or call (505) 242-1010.
• New Mexico Women’s Reentry Center is a newly established peer mentorship program in Albuquerque that focuses on halting the cycle of reincarceration by providing training and support to women in recovery from substance abuse disorders and mental health issues.
The center uses the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) model of eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational and social. The program also offers workshops on parenting, financial literacy and life skills, and is partnering with employers who hire felons. Additional information is available at nmwrc.org or call (505) 589-0808.
• Fathers Building Futures works to help formerly incarcerated men, particularly men with children, obtain certifications for sustainable, well-paid jobs. Partnering with businesses and community organizations, the men get training in welding, heavy machinery operation, roofing, commercial truck driving, plumbing and computer coding. The organization also maintains a woodworking shop. Case managers work with clients and provide classes in life skills, including parenting and financial literacy. Educational assessments are done for job placement purposes, but people with low literacy levels can be referred to Catholic Charities for adult education classes. Further information is available at fathersbuildingfutures.org or by calling (505) 341-9034.
• Goodwill Industries of New Mexico provides employment opportunities within the Goodwill organization to previously incarcerated individuals, as well as job search support to gain employment in the community by helping with résumés, interview skills and connecting with employers. Additionally, it offers training in the use of computers (currently on hold due to COVID), and service referrals for other training and educational opportunities. For more information, go to goodwillnm.org or call Ramon Torres, employment program manager, at (505) 881-6401 ext. 1815.