Concordance Academy of Leadership, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that offers the country’s first set of integrated, holistic and evidence-driven services to individuals returning from prison, recently opened the doors of its new headquarters after a three-month renovation, and it hit another milestone when it enrolled its 100th participant.
City of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and St. Louis County Director of Community Empowerment Ethel Byndom helped celebrate the ribbon-cutting. The three local governments have combined to provide $2 million in funding commitments to the Academy to support participant programming.
The Academy’s 31,000-square-foot facility, which is the result of private donations, is located in an industrial park in Maryland Heights. The building includes multiple classrooms, a resource library, prayer room, computer lab and recreation lounge for Academy participants, as well as office space and conference rooms for staff. St. Louis-based real estate firm Sansone Group facilitated the leasing process. Arcturis handled the design work for the space, and ISC Contracting did the construction.
The Academy began transitioning into the new headquarters late last year when its inaugural class started returning to the St. Louis community. Prior to moving to the Maryland Heights facility, Academy staff shared space with the St. Louis Regional Chamber at the Metropolitan Square Building downtown.
The facility really is the hub of participants’ post-release life,” said Danny Ludeman, president and CEO of Concordance Academy of Leadership. “Now that the renovation is complete, more participants can more fully enjoy the supportive environment and make full use of the space for our services.”
“Concordance Academy’s re-entry services will lower reincarceration rates, enable participants and their families to live joyful, productive lives, and have the greatest impact on public safety,” said Ludeman.
Participants engage in a number of activities at the Academy, focusing on three core areas: behavioral health and wellness, education and employment, and community and life skills. They take part in individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, including substance use programming. They receive career readiness training and educational classes. They also meet with counselors and community support specialists to discuss a wide range of topics from spirituality to housing to financial literacy. In addition, their post-release Academy experience includes volunteer activities with community organizations.
As part of the education and employment focus, the Academy works with participants to place them at jobs with area employers.
It’s been an honor for Pi to partner with Concordance Academy, but it’s also been a boost for our business,” said Chris Sommers, owner of Pi Pizzeria, which employs two Academy participants. “We’ve got a couple of the hardest-working and most grateful employees in town.”
The Academy soon will see an influx of participants at its campus, as it has been providing pre-release services to its second and third classes. Participants in the second class will begin releasing from prison in July and August 2017. The organization plans to continue to enroll 40-plus participants every two months for a total of 250 annually.
ABOUT CONCORDANCE ACADEMY
Concordance Academy is a St. Louis-based nonprofit that offers the country’s first set of integrated, holistic and evidence-driven services to individuals returning to society from prison. Led by President and CEO Danny Ludeman, the organization assists participants in three primary areas: behavioral health and wellness; education and employment; and community and life skills. The Academy starts working with individuals six months prior to release and continues assisting for up to a year after their return to the community. The organization is committed to restoring individuals, rebuilding families, transforming communities and advancing the field of re-entry services. For more info, visit www.concordanceacademy.com.