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David Steward leading $50M campaign to expand Concordance

Non-profit works to reduce reincarceration rates

David Steward, chairman and founder of World Wide Technology, is leading St. Louis-based Concordance Academy’s First Chance capital campaign to raise $50 million to scale its model for reducing reincarceration rates nationally and to expand its programs to 11 other cities by 2025.

Chicago will be the next city after St. Louis, Danny Ludeman, CEO and president of Concordance Academy, told The American. He said they are now in the process of taking a “thorough, measured look” to determine the other 10 cities “with the greatest needs, where we will have the greatest impact.”

As chairman and founder of one of the largest minority-owned enterprises in the world, with nearly $12 billion in annual revenues, Steward would be on the short list to lead any high-dollar fundraising effort. How did Ludeman get him? In one word: God.

“There is a faith-based piece that sometimes goes unnoticed, but we are very vocal about it,” Steward told The American. He referred to Concordance, not as Ludeman’s project or non-profit, but as his “call.” Steward has been Ludeman’s confidant on Concordance since the idea phase, when Ludeman was still CEO of Wells Fargo Advisers, and Steward was one of its first investors.

“I remember sitting with Danny when he was getting ready to retire,” Steward said, “and he said, ‘God put it in my heart to do this.’”

That was six years ago. Concordance Academy then spent two years devising and studying its model with the Brown School at Washington University. They then spent four years implementing what Ludeman calls “the only program of its kind focused 100% on helping people not return to prison with a holistic, integrated, evidence-driven model providing 12 services under one roof.”

Nationally, Ludeman said, 77% of people released from prison recommit a crime and go back to prison. He said Concordance Academy has been able to reduce that rate by 38% to 39%.

The fundraising campaign that Steward leads is called First Chance, because most people who commit crime and are sentenced to prison were never provided an equitable chance to succeed in the first place.

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Concordance AcademyDavid Steward leading $50M campaign to expand Concordance