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AmeriCorps* Vista Summer Associate Program
to Assist Ex-Offenders' Reentry into Society

RELEASED: June 5, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Center for Service-Learning recently received approval to offer an AmeriCorps* VISTA Summer Associate program and the first group of participants will be sworn in and start training today.

The program is called Reentry Advocates for Ex-Offenders and its mission is to assist ex-offenders' adjustment to leaving prison and reentering society. According to AmeriCorps* VISTA, of the 600,000 men and women released from prison, two-thirds are likely to be rearrested within three years of leaving prison, creating a cycle of crime and incurring costs to the community.

The Summer Associate program will attempt to change the cycle by placing each associate with one or two individuals who are nearing a release date from prison. During the eight-week intensive program, which will run June 12-Aug. 6, the associates will focus on becoming agents of support, friends and facilitators of resources that would contribute to the ex-offenders' successful re-integration into society.

Placement sites will be at the Chippewa Falls Correctional Treatment Facility and the Community Corrections Division. Living stipends will be provided for the eight reentry advocates who have chosen to participate in the first year of what it is hoped will be an annual program. They will work full-time and will hold no other jobs during the eight weeks of the program. Summer associates represent several different majors — psychology, criminal justice and social work — and two institutions — UW-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Unlike the year-round VISTA program, Summer Associates can perform more "direct service" kinds of activities, and can be utilized to expand existing efforts or create new programming.

For more information, contact Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning, at (715) 836-4649 or dmowry@uwec.edu.

-30-

BC/NW

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