Roots to Re-entry Partnership
The big picture
Roots to Reentry is a partnership between the prison system, regional employers, and community organizations that moves ex-offenders into high-demand jobs in landscaping and horticulture. The partnership provides intensive technical training, life skills support, and job placement services.
Inmates face nearly insurmountable barriers in gaining employment after serving their prison sentence, from a lack of marketable skills and burdensome debt to legal barriers and employer policy restrictions. It is not surprising given these challenges that two-thirds of ex-offenders are rearrested within three years of their release from prison.
Roots to Reentry provides qualified individuals incarcerated at the Philadelphia Prison System with 16 weeks of vocational and life-skills training both “behind the walls” at the prison’s garden and “outside the walls” at Bartram’s Garden in Southwest Philadelphia. The training program includes employer-led technical training, life skills training, and hands-on experience at a prison-based greenhouse. At the end of the training, participants are placed into jobs with local employers timed to coincide with their release and provided with extensive support services.
This training and job placement is possible thanks to collaboration between diverse partners, including public safety officials, corrections officers, lawyers, and judges, all of whom help to address ex-offenders’ employment barriers. The employment is possible thanks to deep employer commitment to hiring participants upon graduation and supporting their career development.
Roots to Re-entry is led by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), a not-for-profit organization that annually presents the nation’s largest indoor flower exhibit and also sponsors the most comprehensive urban greening program in the nation, Philadelphia Green. For over four years, PHS has been partnering with the Philadelphia Prison System and other local organizations to work with inmates at the Northeast Prison Complex as part of the widely-heralded City Harvest program. PHS partners with Bartram’s Garden, the Philadelphia Prison System, and KJK Associates, a for-profit Philadelphia area landscape company with decades of experience and extensive industry contacts, as well as Moon Landscaping and Liberty Landscaping.