Building Second Chances: Tools for Local Reentry Coalitions

PARTS 1 & 2

This toolkit is designed for local city, county, and community leaders who want to play an active role in improving reentry policy, practice, and outcomes. Within, you will find user-friendly references to seminal publications, research findings, and noteworthy examples of the foundational knowledge needed to design new reentry strategies and reinvigorate existing ones.

Promote broad-based support for policy, practice, and funding changes Icon of pdf document

Now that you have laid the groundwork for community engagement, this part of the toolkit will help your coalition deploy its supporters to serve as messengers and actively campaign for proposed policy, practice, and funding changes. You’ll learn how to maximize impact by organizing messengers’ efforts based on the skills, expertise, and community connections that each of them brings. You’ll also learn how to engage both decision makers and members of the public who will be affected by their decisions in these campaigns.

The information and resources in this section include:

These Questions to Consider will help you find ways to further your reentry work through engaging messengers:

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Questions to Consider
Circular icon of an arrow winding a path between two Xes Are you employing a variety of tactics to advance your reentry priorities?
Communication tactics largely fall under the categories of direct outreach, education and awareness building, in-person meetings and visits, social media campaigns, and traditional media outreach. Each of your chosen tactics should have a clear objective. The Communication Tactics chart in Appendix E will prompt you to determine the purpose of each communication, as well as timing and target audience. Keep in mind that different audiences may respond to varying types of communication tactics. Local elected officials, for example, will be more likely to follow through with policy, practice, and funding changes if they feel pressure from their constituents through a number of avenues. Members of the public may be more influenced by social media messaging and letters to local newspaper editors from their peers. Ideally, decision makers and community members should be receiving a steady drumbeat of communication from messengers.
Circular icon of hand with start on top and circle around Do you have realistic expectations for messengers’ participation?
Your local reentry coalition likely will develop a host of activities to carry out in service of mobilizing support for proposed improvements. It is important to recognize that the level of participation among your supporters may vary. While some community members may be willing to lead or speak at events, for example, others may prefer to play a more passive role through occasional phone calls to local reentry coalition leaders or attendance at events. Although it is important to maintain flexibility in your community engagement strategy, asking for messengers’ anticipated level and preferred methods of participation at the outset will help you plan your outreach.
Circular icon of two people connected by an arrow with a data chart beside Are messengers encouraged to maintain accountability?
In addition to pushing for the enactment of policy, practice, and funding changes, community members play a pivotal role in holding decision makers accountable. Consider planning opportunities for messengers to make continued contact with local reentry coalition leaders to ensure that the changes they worked hard to promote are being implemented and sustained as intended and leading to the desired results.

The Quick References in this section describe different ways your coalition can promote community engagement:

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Quick References

Community Capacity Toolkit [PDF] (2016)
This toolkit contains helpful cues for identifying existing community engagement resources.

Community Planning Toolkit [PDF] (2014)
This toolkit provides an overview of several different engagement methods that your local reentry coalition might consider.

Meaningfully Connecting with Communities in Advocacy and Policy Work [PDF] (2019)
Consult this resource to help define what “meaningful connections” with the community means for your coalition.