The Fortune Society offers an array of In-house social services to over
We are nationally renowned for our commitment to providing culturally competent services to individuals with incarceration histories. We achieve this by prioritizing the hiring of individuals who have “lived experience.” Approximately 70% of Fortune’s employees have histories of incarceration, substance use, or experienced homelessness, with nearly 50% having been formerly incarcerated, and over 80% are persons of color. Fortune’s staff members exemplify the importance of new chances and serve as role models for our participants.
Our service programs are frequently recognized, both nationally and internationally, for their quality and innovation. These programs include:
We empower homeless, formerly incarcerated individuals and their families to build better futures through supportive and affordable housing. Low-threshold access to supportive emergency, transitional, and permanent housing is provided at our congregate facilities, The Fortune Academy (“the Castle”) and Castle Gardens, along with our Scatter-Site Housing program. Participants take first steps on their journeys toward becoming self-sufficient members of the community, with the full support of our comprehensive reentry service offerings and culturally competent staff. Our housing programs have been operating throughout COVID-19.
Since opening its doors in 2002, our Emergency and Transitional Supportive Housing Program at The Fortune Academy in West Harlem has provided a safe, rehabilitative community for people coming home from incarceration. Through regular case management, we assist residents with a wide array of needs, including gaining and maintaining stable housing and employment, substance use treatment and recovery, financial planning and management, and family reunification.
Adjacent to The Fortune Academy in West Harlem is Castle Gardens, a mixed-use, supportive, and affordable residential development and service center in an environmentally sustainable building. It provides long-term housing solutions for justice-involved individuals facing homelessness and their families, as well as low-income individuals and families from West Harlem and the greater New York area.
Freedom House, an emergency and transitional housing unit for adult men, first opened its doors in April 2020. Located in East Harlem, Freedom House contains 38 beds for men over the age of 18 who are currently or likely to be detained and have behavioral health needs. Residents receive Fortune’s array of services, including case management and mental health and substance use treatment.
Through our Scatter-Site Housing Program, Fortune staff serve as mediators between landlords and tenants, ensuring homeless, formerly incarcerated individuals living in neighborhoods across the five boroughs of New York City have access to safe, stable, and affordable housing.
Our Employment Services program is designed to equip formerly incarcerated jobseekers with skills necessary to obtain employment and thrive in the workplace. We offer a variety of services to help motivated job seekers begin their careers and advance professionally. These services include job readiness workshops, sector-based skills trainings in Green Construction, Environmental Remediation, Culinary Arts, Job Development, and Transportation, as well as job placement assistance and retention services. We also offer subsidized internships, known as Transitional Work, to help job seekers in need of additional hands-on experience advance in their desired careers.
The Soft Skills Job Readiness Training program focuses on interview preparation, plus workplace and retention success. Through the program, jobseekers develop a valuable set of tools for their job search, including instruction on producing a professional resume and how to discuss the content on it, problem solving and time management skills, and practice in answering difficult questions— especially surrounding their criminal justice involvement. Completion of this program is prerequisite for the Skills Training and Internship Programs listed below.
The Career Readiness for Reentry program, in partnership with Grow with Google, will focus on fundamental digital skills such as how to apply for jobs online and create a resume, along with more advanced topics including entrepreneurship and business budgeting.
The Digital Equity Program is a resource for participants to receive the technical support and training necessary for navigating a digital world, with technology distribution and support, Microsoft Certification & IT Career courses and digital literacy training. Weekly in-person support desks allow participants to have hands-on interaction and troubleshooting with experienced staff.
Through our certification-driven Culinary Arts program, participants receive hands-on training in an industrial kitchen, as well as education about the culinary industry. Completion of this program can lead to them earning both the ServSafe and New York City Food Handler’s certifications.
The Green Building Operation and Maintenance program provides an overview of environmental health and safety, building science, facility management, and sustainable construction and deconstruction methods. Participants do preparatory work for and obtain certifications in Basic Carpentry, Electrical/HVAC, and Plumbing, OSHA 10- hour Construction, EPA Lead RRP, G/PRO Operation and Maintenance, and BPI Energy Efficient Building Operation (EEBOPS).
This certification-driven program features a six-week program delivery. In the first three weeks, participants are given an overview of environmental health and safety. For the next three weeks, they receive advanced training in OSHA 10-hour Construction, OSHA 40-hour HAZWOPER, OSHA Confined Space, EPA Lead RRP and Lead in Construction, NYS/NYC Asbestos Handler (Initial), Disaster Site Worker, Global Hazard Communication, and 4-hr Scaffolding.
This program addresses two different groups of participants interested in the field of transportation and commercial driving. Admitted individuals without a basic drivers’ license receive “in-class” and “on-the-road” practice and training, as well as testing to receive a basic driver’s license– a qualification that prepares them for in-demand positions and makes them more marketable as prospective employees.
Admitted individuals already possessing a basic driver’s license will engage in “in-class” and “on-the-road” practice, plus testing, in order to receive a commercial driver’s license (Class-B; Passenger and Air Break Endorsements), which is a qualification in high demand in New York.
The Transitional Work program offers paid, part-time, 10-week internships with partnering employers throughout NYC, coupled with rigorous case management and a weekly job club. This program performs an important “bridging” function for some of our hardest-to-serve participants, generating a work record for them, introducing them to employers, and providing a “lab” where they can work through on-the-job issues.
The Queens County Reentry Task Force partners with The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to provide assistance for individuals who have recently been released from incarceration. Individual service plans made in collaboration with partner organizations helps reintegrate individuals into their communities.
Though our in-person services are specific to individuals with justice involvement in New York City, there are online resources available to help individuals with justice involvement around the country access employment.
Learn about the importance of first impressions through a handshake and smile here. Then, take a look at the following resources from around the web:
Discover a wealth of resources on the Legal Action Center website, including:
And from the New York City Commission on Human Rights, learn what three questions are illegal on job applications in NYC.
Our Education program empowers students to achieve personal and professional goals, such as acquiring basic literacy skills, earning a High School Equivalency diploma, preparation for employment, and encouragement to pursue higher education. Participants have the opportunity to develop essential reading, writing, math, and computer skills with the support of Fortune’s dedicated teachers and volunteer tutors. Our small class sizes allow each individual to progress at his or her own pace, in an environment where all students feel respected and are encouraged to give input on what is being taught. Our instruction is aligned to New York State Common Core learning standards, and includes content areas covered on the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) exam.
We offer all students career exploration activities and advocacy opportunities to further connect them to their communities, as well as to their individual professional dreams.
We use multiple online learning management systems with adaptive methods to create personalized learning plans for each student. Through these systems, we help students develop core foundational skills, so that they can go on to build competency and bypass skills they have already mastered.
Our counseling services ensure the alignment of students’ academic and career goals, and that they enroll in the appropriate wrap-around services to help them achieve professional success.
Our Family Services program offers an array of group and individual services to meet the unique needs of formerly incarcerated parents, including:
We’re committed to enhancing children’s development through programs that encourage fathers to become personally involved with their children and relate to their co-parents. Our Fatherhood Initiative program helps noncustodial fathers reconnect with their children and develop essential parenting skills by helping each participant increase engagement and responsibility in their relationship with their children; provide material and financial support and recognize and manage emotions.
This service is offered remotely.
Through a partnership with Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT), LIFT attorneys provide our participants with free New York State family law information and guidance for cases of:
This service is offered remotely.
We’ve established a partnership with the NYC Human Resources Administration’s (HRA) Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to provide educational workshops to parents giving and/or receiving child support and the ways in which it helps families and children. NYC HRA/OCSE provides full information to participants about child support debt reduction options and payment plans, which can reduce the amount owed by low-income parents who make good efforts to maintain employment and make consistent child support payments.
This service is offered remotely.
Our Case Managers meet with parents biweekly to address their unique issues and work towards achieving identified goals. These sessions help parents establish and strengthen relationships with their children, increase their financial support, and gain tools to increase the quality of engagement with their children. Services include addressing child welfare issues for parents with active involvement with the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).
This service is offered remotely and in-person.
Our free Abusive Partner Intervention Program will provide court advocacy, individual case management and group counseling services, and will utilize the curricula, “Dignity and Respect” and “Turning Points”, which focus on the dynamics and effects of domestic violence and building healthy relationships.
This service will be offered remotely.
Our rigorous Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) program reduces the prison and jail population, saves taxpayers millions of dollars, and helps hundreds of men and women annually learn how to lead law-abiding, productive lives. Fortune’s Court Advocates are stationed in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, and work closely with prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and other court partners, to recruit people facing felony and misdemeanor charges and jail or prison time. Court Advocates provide regular updates to the courts regarding participants’ engagement in our ATI program and compliance with their mandate. Participants completing the program successfully receive non-incarceratory sentences. Group sessions are currently offered remotely, while individual counseling sessions are offered both remotely and in-person.
Fortune’s ATI program, Freedom, is designed to assist individuals with breaking the cycle of criminal justice system involvement by addressing physical, emotional, psychological, and psychosocial needs.
With advocacy from Fortune’s Court Advocates, individuals plead guilty and are mandated to participate in Fortune’s ATI program for 90-days to 6-months for misdemeanor offenses; 6-months to a year for felony offenses. Upon enrollment into the program, participants are assigned a Case Manager and provided a schedule including weekly individual and group sessions. After assessment, participants are referred accordingly to one or more of Fortune’s wraparound services.
The Residing Hope ATI program is designed for individuals with substance use issues who require a higher level of care. Court Advocates place participants in a residential treatment setting for a minimum of six months. Our Court Advocates then monitor participants’ progress in treatment and provide periodic updates to the court.
Fortune has the capacity to provide 100 reentry beds for men with mental health or substance use needs, and six for women. This housing is for individuals who are currently detained, would be detained if not for this housing resource, or are at risk of detention. Housing is located within Fortune’s existing housing facilities or at subcontracted housing providers, including behavioral health providers.
We envision a world where mental health needs are not a barrier to reintegration for individuals with justice involvement. As a result, our Better Living Center (BLC) provides licensed behavioral health treatment for adults. Most importantly, each participant receives person-centered care to address their unique and complex mental health needs by promoting behavioral strategies to cope with stressors of daily life and managing anger, anxiety, and depression. We offer both Telehealth and in-person mental health services.
The enrollment into our mental health clinic involves taking part in an individual intake session. This includes a standardized psychosocial assessment, psychiatric evaluation, and medical assessment. Individuals participate in individual and group counseling, medication management, and receive referrals to career development, educational services, and other services specific to their needs.
We offer a variety of evidence-based groups to help participants build coping skills, maintain sobriety, and engage in positive social interactions, including:
Group sessions are currently being held on Zoom, and we are expanding group offerings in 2021.
Our NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services-licensed outpatient substance use treatment services program empowers participants with substance use issues impacted by the justice system to address and overcome their dependency. Our medically supervised outpatient program provides participant-centered treatment that is geared towards the overall improvement of each participant's mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Participants enrolled in this program receive individualized outpatient substance use treatment counseling based on cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing techniques to develop the impetus to change. In addition, individuals receive group counseling to support their recovery, address impairments as a result of substance use, and learn problem-solving strategies to maintain their sobriety and prevent relapse. We also offer lifetime aftercare, so our participants know they can rely on us to help them navigate future challenges that may threaten their ability to maintain success. Services are offered both in-person (at limited capacity) and remotely.
The enrollment into our Substance Use Treatment Services program involves taking part in an individual intake session. This includes a standardized psychosocial screening, medical assessment, and a series of baseline drug tests. Participants then enter the intensive treatment phase, which involves individual and group counseling, career development, educational services, and other services specific to their needs.
In addition, we offer Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) maintenance to help treat substance use disorders, sustain recovery, and prevent overdose.
Participants can also be referred for on-site psychiatric evaluation and medication management and receive referrals to external services as needed.
We offer a variety of evidence-based groups to help participants build coping skills, maintain sobriety, and engage in positive social interactions. These groups include:
We engage in a variety of clinical interventions that empower Fortune participants to reach their full potential. These practices include:
Our Health Services team primarily serves individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and provides them with vital discharge planning, case management, health education, and connection to quality, community-based treatment and care. The team also offers participants HIV prevention education. This holistic and integrated approach to serving formerly incarcerated individuals living with HIV/AIDS, or at risk of developing HIV/AIDS, helps ensure their safe and healthy transition back into the community. Services are offered both remotely and in-person.
Our Rikers Island Transitional Consortium discharge planning team provides screening, intake, assessment, discharge planning, and connection to medical care in the community for PLWHA housed on Rikers Island who are about to be re-enter society.
Our case management program offers HIV/AIDS education, counseling, case management, supportive services, and peer leadership to PLWHA with criminal justice histories.
We provide emergency HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) beds at The Fortune Academy to homeless formerly incarcerated PLWHA. Like all residents of the Fortune Academy, our HASA participants receive intensive wrap-around supports as well.
People with a history of incarceration deserve healthcare that is compassionate, accessible, and non-stigmatizing. Our Reentry Education Project facilitates hands-on trainings for healthcare providers and clinic staff on the barriers people face as they transition out of prisons and jails, health implications of incarceration, and tools clinics can use to create healing environments and relationships with formerly incarcerated patients.
The Benefits Access program helps participants determine if they are eligible to receive public benefits available to low-income individuals. These benefits include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSD), and other forms of public assistance. The program also connects participants with expert advice to help them with a wide range of issues, such as child support, evictions, accessing criminal records, and more. These additional services are offered to all new participants who walk through our doors. Our Benefits Access services are offered both remotely, and in-person, if needed.
We refer participants in need of financial management, advisement, and budgeting services to financial empowerment organizations in NYC.
We offer legal services to support participants with the challenges they face during reentry, such as issues with ID, dealing with an eviction, dealing with child support or custody issues, and appealing denial of benefits such as SSD/I, UIB and/or advice with HRA fair-hearings.
We also direct participants in obtaining Certificates of Relief from Disabilities/Good Conduct.
Our entitlements specialists engage participants and staff to ensure that they register to vote in the upcoming local, state, and national elections. Necessary documents are collected from participants and assistance is offered to homeless individuals in determining the best address to use on their voter registration forms.
As a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site, we offer free tax preparation for eligible participants in partnership with Single Stop, USA.
Our Food and Nutrition program consists of many offerings, including daily meals service, cooking demonstrations, nutrition education workshops, nutrition counseling, and fresh produce giveaways. To help protect our participants from COVID-19, we deliver meals right to our residents’ doors at our residential facilities and provide grab-and-go bags at our Long Island City service center. We also hold virtual nutrition workshops and cooking demonstrations.
Everyone deserves to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ensure our clients don’t have to worry about their next meal so they can focus on rebuilding their lives. Through our meal program, we provide our participants with access to nourishing and appetizing meals every day. Importantly, our meals celebrate the diverse ethnic heritage of our participants. As a result, our meals are not only healthy, but delicious and familiar.
Every Wednesday afternoon, Harlem community members flock to our weekly food giveaway in front of our supportive housing facility, Castle Gardens, to pick up a free bag of New York State grown produce. Our produce giveaway and cooking demonstrations have made Fortune’s Harlem location a place where the community comes together. It’s where our neighbors share updates about family and life. They learn healthy recipes and teach us about how they grew and cooked vegetables back home, whether that be the Dominican Republic or South Carolina. We further support both Fortune participants and the Harlem community through our Veggie Vouchers, which give Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients additional purchasing power to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at local supermarkets.
Decades of incarceration can be hard on the body. Our resident dietitian-nutritionist, Jaime McBeth, RDN, provides medical nutrition therapy to participants with conditions ranging from gout to IBS. Her practices are sensitive to traumatic food experiences and their impact on the eating habits of formerly incarcerated people. She also teaches Nutrition Education workshops to collaborate with participants who want to improve their eating habits in ways that are relevant to their lives. Workshops teach participants how to decipher nutrition recommendations; convert their favorite foods into healthier alternatives; prepare nutritious, culturally-relevant meals; select, store, and preserve fresh produce; and grocery budgeting. We also offer specialized workshops for people living with HIV/AIDS, hypertension and diabetes.
At our Sky Garden on the rooftop of Castle Gardens, residents have cultivated 17 planter boxes, several ground planters and beds, and a shelved, vertical garden unit. Every spring, the Sky Garden is awash in rainbow-colored tulips and other perennials. We also use our Long Island City Herbal Mediation garden and the Sky Garden to grow herbs and produce for our meals, cooking demonstrations, and nutrition workshops. To reduce food waste, our gardens include composting facilities where we divert food from landfills. Additionally, prior to COVID-19, the gardens have been the site for yoga and meditation classes.
The Creative Arts at Fortune is more than a program—we are a community. We believe in the healing and transformative powers of imagination, creativity, and radical hope. Since Fortune’s founding more than half a century ago, we’ve believed in the power of art to restore, dismantle, imagine and help realize a just collective future. Workshops are offered five days a week in Music, Creative Writing, Acting, Visual Arts and more. All levels of experience are embraced. We share opportunities to perform, publish and amplify year-round, and invite community members to events.
In a weekly songwriting and recording workshop, participants craft and record songs in-person at the on-site music studio at our Long Island City offices. The original compositions are shared with the public through various platforms including YouTube and Soundcloud, and during special events.
The fruits of the community’s artistry include the release of our first album, Success Stories Vol. 1. Songs and spoken word pieces were entirely created, recorded and produced by participants. Each track is steeped in positivity and a socially conscience outlook with topics ranging from police brutality to the power of therapy.
The feelings of acceptance, affirmation and joy are central to our creative expression writing workshop that meets twice a week. During each virtual session, which is rooted in the anti-racist model, participants nurture self and community as they hone the craft and power of telling their own stories through poetry, short story, open letters, playwriting and more. Opportunities are offered year-round to publish, perform and collaborate with other artists and organizations.
Through our weekly Visual Art workshops, community members refine their talents and creativity and explore self-expression through a variety of artistic techniques. No previous experience is necessary. Artists also have the opportunity to share their creations throughout the year at exhibitions and a variety of public events.
The Acting workshop is an opportunity for community members to build/sharpen performance fundamentals while discovering and understanding more about themselves and others and to develop empathy. Through scene study work, lively discussions, improvisational and other theater exercises, participants build community while strengthening their acting technique and speech skills. All classes are held virtually. Performances/public sharings occur throughout the year.
Every Thursday from noon to 1 pm EST, the Fortune community gathers for a lunchtime performance to showcase their talents through song, poetry and more. Now held virtually, the Music Cafe is open to the public.
Please contact John Runowicz at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Voices of Fortune is our annual print publication of art and writing for freedom. Shared nationwide, it amplifies the creative vision of the Fortune community, including participants, people currently incarcerated, staff members, and arts partners. View the 2020 edition here.
Please reach out to Jamie Maleszka at email@example.com with any questions.
As our original Fortune production, The Castle play features the lives of four individuals directly impacted by incarceration who once lived at our housing facility, “The Castle,” and are now leading fulfilling lives in the community. We are always eager to share the play with new audiences, including churches, universities, community centers, correctional facilities, and other nonprofits.
For more information or to schedule a virtual performance, please reach out to John Runowicz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We deeply value our network of diverse Arts partners and are grateful for their expertise, spirit and commitment to healthier communities through the Arts. Collaborators include:
Developed as a valentine to community, and as a means to stay connected, curious and hopeful during COVID-19, we created the C.A.R.E. Guide, a collection of arts, learning and wellness resources that are free and available online.
Please reach out to Jamie Maleszka (email@example.com) with any questions or suggestions.
Our Prepare for Release program provides skill-building and discharge preparation services to eligible individuals during their incarceration at New York City Department of Correction (DOC) jails, and continues offering reentry support following their release. We help participants prepare for release by applying for identification documents in advance, and by providing parenting classes, group counseling, professional development courses, continuing education, and relapse prevention workshops. Prepare for Release is currently available in all Rikers Island facilities, and plans to expand to all NYC DOC jails.
Participants engaged in Fortune’s Prepare for Release program participate in our soft-skills trainings, including Workforce 101, relapse prevention, 24/7 Dads, parenting workshops, creative writing classes, and Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), all of which are conducted in Rikers Island facilities. Completion of these classes gives participants the practical tools required to be successful upon reentry.
Fortune arranges for trusted hard-skills training partners to conduct job-ready trainings, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Certification Trainings, GPRO Electrical Certification Training, and Food Handlers Certification Training. By earning these certifications while incarcerated, graduates prepare themselves to either enter the workforce directly upon reentry, or to enter our Employment Services sector-based training program, by-passing the job readiness workshop.
Jail-Based Services: Staff are providing curricula and handouts to participants (there is no on-site facilitator), as well as offering transportation for those released.
Community-Based Services: Staff are providing intakes and case management services face-to-face and via telephone or video, including referrals for housing, training, employment and education services, and providing food and clothing. Staff are also conducting toxicology screenings and virtual groups via telephone or video, and providing incentives (only available through face-to-face activity).
Our Care Management Unit (CMU) is a comprehensive team of service providers working together to help those with chronic, or complex, medical conditions receive the health care they need. Working in partnership with the New York State Department of Health’s Health Home Program these services are provided free of charge to everyone who is currently on Medicaid and has chronic medical and/or mental health needs. The goal of the CMU is to make sure our participants get connected to the healthcare services they need, replacing trips to the Emergency Room with visits to a primary care provider of their choice. The services we provide also include Medicaid activation/re-activation, Managed Care Organization (MCO) selection and benefits navigation. Our services are offered both virtually and in-person.
The Care Management team acts as a “healthcare concierge” for our participants, scheduling key appointments/connections to Primary Care (and specialists when needed), mental health and/or substance use providers, medical transportation services, prescription refills, social services support (benefits, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP, ID, housing referrals), patient and family support, mental health and/or substance use treatment services, and more.
In 2019 the CMU joined forces with DOHMH’s Health Justice Network (HJN) to provide direct connections to medical and reentry services, through the guidance of Community Healthcare Workers. The program is open to adults who have been released from jail or prison to NYC within the past three years, many of whom do not meet the chronic conditions criteria for health home care management but need primary care.
Our staff works closely with partnering services providers, both within Fortune and externally, to connect them to the supportive services they need to live healthier lives. This includes shopping for groceries with participants, assembling shelter care kits, assisting with paperwork related to obtaining ID or changing one’s legal name or gender, and connecting individuals to 2010e application assistance for supportive housing.
Through a year-long partnership with Healthfirst, Fortune’s Recovery Coordination Agency (RCA) team implemented an innovative model for connecting Medicaid enrollees with significant mental illness, substance use disorders, or both, to intensive home and community-based supportive services. Our RCA team specifically identifies and helps individuals who are eligible for a Health and Recovery Plan (HARP) and connects them to Home and Community-Based (HCBS) services such as supportive employment, short-term crisis care, and access to certified peers with lived experience of substance use and mental health needs.
Our Recovery Center, the NEST (Networking and Engagement Services Team), provides services and a safe space for individuals in recovery from a substance use disorder. Open Mondays through Saturdays, the non-clinical setting promotes long-term recovery through skill-building groups, recreation, and the opportunity to connect with peers with similar life experiences.
Some of the support groups available to NEST participants include weekly relapse prevention, women’s empowerment, anger management, and re-entry support. Groups also take place on Saturdays. Our peer counseling and group sessions take place virtually, but if participants urgently need peer support they can schedule an in-person appointment at our Long Island City offices.
Peer Recovery Coaches and staff with lived experience provide one-on-one support for participants as they navigate re-entering society, finding employment, and reconnecting with family.
NEST participants are trained to administer Narcan and provided with kits in the event they witness in their community an opioid overdose to prevent a potential fatality.
The arts are part of our overall programming, and participants in the NEST are offered the opportunity to partake in creative arts such as music composition and recording, and creative writing. There are also trips to theatre performances on and off-Broadway.
Meals are served 3 times daily during the week and brunch is available to NEST participants on Saturdays.