Economic Impact Report 2020
Building Bridges started the Reentry Program as a pilot project in July 2014. Six months later we had our first glimpse of data that far exceeded our expectations. Now the Reentry Program has moved from a pilot stage to a permanent model within our design.
In July 2018, Building Bridges of Oklahoma received our third statewide award, this time from the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association for innovative work being done in reducing recidivism rates. We are proud to announced our very own District Attorney Kevin Buchannan also received an Award of Excellence for his outstanding work in the State of Oklahoma. Addressing systemic barriers and breaking the cycle of generational incarceration requires the entire community pulling together.
For many former felons, there are challenges in finding employment, transportation, housing, court costs, strained relationships with family and children, and much more. All stemming from poor choices, systemic barriers, and a lifetime of learning how to survive in unhealthy ways. For many, the system is setup to slow for failure instead of success. Building Bridges of Oklahoma works with families side-by-side with the court system to start building a plan to move forward, giving the person the greatest chance for success. Collaboration between our judges, district attorneys, probation officers and the police department has paid huge dividends in our community. Their hard working and dedication to address systemic barriers within our community has made a difference here at Building Bridges.
Working with families in the reentry program has taught many of lessons learned to our staff along the way. Decrease in welfare benefits are directly linked to families bridging and moving above the federal poverty guidelines. However, families who live in the world of incarceration are the most under resourced families. They often avoid getting on subsidy of any form in order to stay of the radar with the law. This way of thinking is passed down to the next generation even if there are no legal problems at the time.
In this situation, we work on building trust and learn how to lean in on subsidy programs for awhile in order to start reducing recidivism rates and move the needle in upward mobility.
Many repeat offences are linked to financial shortfalls. Moving adults onto subsidy for awhile while developing skills set for stable employment helps stable out families while they face the ramifications of incarceration. As you can tell by the data above, families eventually start moving off of subsidy as they increase their earning compacity. The processing of weaning off subsidy slowly as they start to increase their earned income is one of many effective strategies we have used to help bridge families above the poverty line and to break the cycle of generational incarceration.
Bridging the gap with payday loans will take a community effort. Payday loan centers continue to grow and prey upon our citizens as the only solution for families in financial crisis. When you analyze our current data from year-to-year, we had one individual who interred Bridges before serving time. Strategies are already being put into place when this individual reenters our community to prevent reoffending due to financial reasons. All other individuals paid 100% back and broke the cycle of payday loans. All have not reoffended to date. In 2009, Bartlesville had two payday loan centers. By 2020, we now have over 27 payday loans all owned by two individuals who are in every state across the Central Plains. Interest rates range from 56.9% to 780% online.
Thanks to Truity Credit Union's Microloan Program, Building Bridges of Oklahoma has been able to stay up with the growth of a community-wide predator for now. Tens of millions of dollars leave our community yearly in high interest rates, trapping families for years. Policies will need to be implemented in Bartlesville to reverse the damage to our economy. Without the generosity and commitment from our banking institutions, this would not be our current reality.
As Building Bridges scales to reach more families, our team uses innovative approaches and data driven techniques to reduce high interest debt. On average we see an 84% reduction in high interest debt.
High Interest debt can include credit cards, rent-to-own furniture, electronics, and even cell phones. Using the same Microloan Program established by Truity Credit Union, we start seeing results from newly developed strategies in the amount paid in in high interest debt within a year of joining the program. Just like the previously stated statistics regarding payday loans, we had one individual who interred Bridges before serving time. The same strategies that helped many others will be waiting when this individual returns to our community.
Strategies help reduce recidivism rates, depression, suicidal ideation, hopelessness, stress, anxiety, and poor health outcomes while instilling confidence, trust, hope, financial freedom and stability. Together we can make a difference by reducing high interest debt in our community. Visit our website page labeled "Volunteer Today" and see how you can get involved with Building Bridges.