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First Lady Visits Women’s Reentry in Philadelphia: Highlights Proposed $1 Million Investment

Governor Tom Wolf: Press Release | March 11, 2022

First Lady Frances Wolf reiterated the Wolf Administration’s commitment to criminal justice reform and restorative justice while visiting three Philadelphia-based organizations that provide reentry programming and services to female returning citizens in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Mrs. Wolf stopped by Why Not Prosper,Ardella’s House,and The Wardrobe to tour their spaces, learn more about their programs, and share Governor ​Tom Wolf’s budget proposal.

In his 2022 budget, Governor Wolf is proposing a $1 million investment for reentry services at the local level for women to give them the best opportunity to start fresh and reduce recidivism.

“There are phenomenal programs addressing the needs of female reentrants across the state, and meeting the passionate women who are spearheading them has urged me to visit and hear more about their work,” said First Lady Wolf. “Seeing how strong these organizations’ relationships are with their communities ensures me that investments in them will result in positive outcomes for the women they serve. I hope that our legislators and the community at large see the impact these organizations are having and continue supporting them, too.”

The First Lady began her visit at Why Not Prosper, a grassroots nonprofit founded by a formerly incarcerated woman for other formerly incarcerated women. After overcoming her own battles with incarceration and addiction, as well as rejection from employers, landlords, and other social services upon returning from prison, founder Reverend Michelle Simmons opened Why Not Prosper to support other women in similar situations.

Why Not Prosper’s program helps women find and retain employment; increase their job skills; secure safe and affordable housing; abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs; reunite with their children; and reduce recidivism. In the residential program, women can receive trauma-informed therapy, attend 12-step recovery meetings, and find assistance from the other women in navigating their reentry process.

The first lady met with Reverend Simmons and several women of Why Not Prosper, including members of its Sisters With A Goal program, or S.W.A.G. S.W.A.G. is part of Why Not Prosper’s social justice arm and is a group of formerly incarcerated women helping one another. Participants are trained in self-defense, community engagement, participatory action, and more. Since it opened, Why Not Prosper has helped more than 10,000 women and will soon open a Harrisburg location.

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