Concordance Academy of Leadership, led by president and CEO Danny Ludeman, raised $1 million at its third annual gala, “A Halloween Soiree,” held at The Ritz-Carlton St. Louis on Saturday.
The organization provides a holistic, evidence-driven approach to assisting individuals returning from prison, with the aim of significantly reducing reincarceration rates, one of the first to do so in the nation. One critical focus area is employment. The gala featured speakers and video about Class 1 participant Aaron and his employer Pi Pizzeria, one of the first regional companies to hire Concordance participants. Attendees stood up and cheered as Aaron himself was called to stage to talk about his accomplishments, struggles and determination to improve his and his families’ lives.
The outpouring of support from the St. Louis community has been tremendous,” Ludeman said. “Employers, housing developers, educators, health care providers, donors and volunteers have rallied behind our effort, both in funding and participation. We hope this event also reminded attendees that hiring Concordance participants is a mutually beneficial way to help reduce reincarceration rates and support St. Louis families.”
In addition to raising money for the organization, gala attendees were treated to live music from one of St. Louis’ top party bands, Griffin and the Gargoyles. Randi Naughton of FOX-2/KTVI served as emcee for the event for the second year in a row.
These individuals face enormous obstacles when they are released,” Ludeman said. “Most have no jobs, no housing, no support system to help them get back on their feet. It’s no wonder that 77 percent return to prison within the next five years. We aim to cut that number by one-third here in St. Louis and eventually, nationwide.”
Concordance is actively serving 150 individuals in three state prisons, offering pre- and post-release services. It is on track to serve 250 annually.
The event was underwritten by Fox Family Foundation, World Wide Technology Foundation, Steward Family Foundation, Centene Charitable Foundation and Wells Fargo Advisors, ensuring that every dollar raised will support the organization’s efforts. Many leading St. Louis companies helped sponsor the evening, including Maritz, Spire, Ameren Missouri, Emerson, Edward Jones and Enterprise. See full list of sponsors here.
Event co-chairs were Mary and Bill Clarkson, Catherine and Tad Edwards, Kerrin and David Kowach.
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.org.