History

A Consistent Advocate

Safer Foundation, an Illinois not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, began providing employment, educational, and supportive services for individuals with criminal records in 1972. With headquarters in Chicago, Safer Foundation’s staff of more than 250 assist clients in facilities throughout Illinois and eastern Iowa.

Along with the stigma of a criminal record, Safer’s clients face barriers to employment, such as lack of education, substance abuse issues and little experience in the work world. At the same time, communities face sizable increases in the number of returning individuals, as nearly 700,000 people are released from U.S. prisons each year.

While Safer Foundation’s primary focus remains finding gainful employment for its clients, the organization has expanded its offerings over the past three decades to include supportive services, such as housing, substance abuse treatment, education and life skills.

Safer Foundation founders Gus Wilhelmy and Bernie Curran.

In 1976, Safer Foundation expanded service delivery into Rock Island, Ill., in response to a need for services in that area of the state. In 1978, Iowa Governor Robert Ray personally invited Safer to deliver services in his state. He made the decision after learning that many of the state’s parolees and probationers already were seeking Safer’s services across the border in Illinois.

That same year, Safer Foundation agreed to operate and administer a 60-bed residential work release facility on behalf of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Today, Safer Foundation — the only non-profit private organization to manage adult transition centers for IDOC — provides secure oversight and services to more than 500 males at two residential facilities located in the North Lawndale community on Chicago’s West Side.

The purpose of these centers is to give individuals nearing release from Illinois supervision the support and services necessary to re-establish ties to family, employment, and community.

Safer Foundation also established a Public Policy and Advocacy Program to identify and reduce the systematic barriers to employment by developing broad-based coalitions to help advocate for our clients and people with criminal records in general..?

For more than 42 years, Safer Foundation has attracted a broad base of funding support from individuals, private foundations and the public sector. Safer also receives numerous requests from international, national, state and local government officials seeking our expertise on policies and programs that promote successful re-entry.

Safer continues to be staunch advocate for those who have paid their dues to society and are seeking a second chance.

  • Watch and Listen
    • Safer Hiring for CRC-1 Positions: Applicants for Corrections Residence Counselors should… MORE >

    • Bernie and Gus: Their Vision: From a 2014 interview with Safer co-founders Raymond… MORE >

  • Headlines
    • Grim prospects for inmates who traveled on bus to freedom months ago: As he rode home on a Greyhound bus earlier this… MORE >

    • State expands ‘certificates of good conduct’ for former offenders: New law gives former offenders the chance to… MORE >

  • Reentry Resources
    • Safer Foundation Policy PapersMORE >

    • Safer Foundation DocumentsMORE >

    • Safer Foundation Fact SheetsMORE >

  • Public Policy
    • The Statistics: Below are data, gathered from independent sources, showing a breakdown of individuals affected by… MORE >

    • Council of Advisors to Reduce Recidivism through Employment (CARRE): In order to make… MORE >

  • Success Stories
    • Nadeja Beasley: Nadeja Beasley had 10 long years to think about some costly choices she… MORE >

    • Jay Borchert: Jay Borchert can proudly say he’s been clean for ten years. Earlier in… MORE >

    • Juan Cruz: Juan Cruz once lived the life of a gangbanger on the streets of Chicago. The… MORE >

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