Skip to main content

Resources for Returning Citizens

If you are or were recently in jail or prison, you might be looking for assistance in getting back on your feet. Upon your release, you should have received information about state and local agencies that can help. Below are many programs in Illinois that can help you find housing, a job, or other services.


Illinois Department of Employment Security/ Reentry Employment Service Program. The Re-Entry Employment Service Program (RESP) serves Illinoisans who are currently, or have in the past been, subject to any stage of the criminal justice process and who require assistance in overcoming barriers to employment resulting from a record of arrest or conviction.
Locations: Multiple
Contact: 800-244-5631, 312-793-1597

Education Justice Project. EJP is a vibrant community of incarcerated students, educators, formerly incarcerated individuals, and others who are committed to a more just and humane world. EJP believes that providing quality post-secondary education within prisons is an important step towards that vision.
See: Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry, produced by EJP’s Reentry Guide Initiative at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Produced since 2016 and updated annually, Mapping Your Future is the reentry guide for people released from prison and returning home to live in Illinois. It includes guidance on what they can do to prepare before release as well as practical information on how to get an ID, obtain housing, employment training, and more. The directory includes resources such as reentry organizations, medical clinics, and community and advocacy organizations.
The Guide is available in Spanish.
EJP also offers an online directory of resources, from across the State, searchable by county.
Address: Education Justice Project, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-300-5150

The Salvation Army  For those stuck in chronic unemployment, The Salvation Army is a refuge of resources and support. The Salvation Army works to combat the symptoms of prolonged joblessness, as well as its root causes, through programs that address the mind, body, and soul. It's a holistic approach that is creating sustainable change for millions of families and individuals every year, via job-training, employment placement and more.
Locations:  Springfield, Decatur, Bloomington, Cicero, Chicago, more.
Contact: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769); check website for local phone numbers.


North Side:

Howard and Evanston Community Center. HECC began as a food pantry in 1967 after parishioners from St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church in Rogers Park saw their neighbors living in poverty. HECC still feeds thousands every year, but now also offers resources to families from birth through old age. Their mission is to assist low-income individuals and families in the Greater Rogers Park and Evanston to stabilize their lives and to develop the social skills necessary to become effective community members. They provide emergency intervention, family stabilization, and promote developmental growth. HECC also has specific opportunities for people re-entering from prison with multiple needs including employment.
Location: 7648 N. Paulina Street, Chicago, IL 60626
Contact: 773-262-6622

Inspiration Corporation offers a free 12-week food service training program for returning citizens that provides kitchen training and culinary instruction along with services related to overcoming criminal backgrounds, homelessness, and other obstacles.
Location: 4554 N Broadway, Suite 207, Chicago, IL 60640 (Uptown)
Contact: 773-878-0981

Chicago Loop:

Roosevelt University Life Skills Re-entry Program. Life skills instruction, case management services, employment help, education advice, bus vouchers.
Location: Roosevelt University, Gage Building, 18 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603
Contact: 312-281-3370

Southside and South Suburbs:

The Woodlawn Community Reentry Project. Launched in 2011, the Woodlawn Reentry Project is a not-for-profit community-based organization founded in response to the needs of those coming out of incarceration. They seek to assist residents of the Woodlawn Community re-acclimate to life in their communities and act as a stabilizing force within the community. They are committed to education as the tool of empowerment, providing those released with the tools to solve the problems they face as they are being restored to their communities.
Contact: Gregory Gaither, 773-301-0291

Project H.O.O.D. ("Helping Others Obtain Destiny"). Reentry services, mentorship, training, and community for residents of Woodlawn and Englewood. Part of Project H.O.O.D.’s mission is to change the trajectory of at-risk individuals and prevent recidivism and our re-entry program offers an array of services, including Identification and Driver’s Licenses, Construction Training cohorts, CDL classes, and job placement services.
Location: 6620 South MLK Drive, Chicago, IL 60637
Contact: 773-923-8270

The North Lawndale Employment Network runs multiple programs for returning citizens to find work. These include U-Turn Permitted, a four-week job readiness training program for individuals with felony background. They also run Self-Employment Pathways for Women, a job readiness program for returning women that teaches the skills needed to run a small business.
Location: 4906 S Homan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60624 (Lawndale)
Contact: 773-638-1825

Phalanx Family Services, Reentry Support Center. Offers education, training, mentoring, support groups, counseling, help with housing and food, family reunification and child support assistance, sealing or expunging records.
Location: 837 W. 119th Street, Chicago, IL 60643
Contact: 773-291-1086

Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition. The Coalition offers a variety of reentry services in-house, including record clearing (regardless of background), technology literacy training, and a 12-week paid reentry fellowship. CEIC offers Know Your Rights education so people understand how the new cannabis laws affect you, and the ways you can protect yourself.
CEIC hosts RAP Sheet Assistance Days every other month in Chicago for those with records in Cook County to start the record clearing process. The Coalition also provides referrals for people seeking Medical Cannabis Patient registration. Finally, CEIC provides information & pathways to enter the Cannabis Industry, including through a 12-week Fellowship, a Cannabis Jobs Board, an email newsletter, and more.  
Re-Entry services:
Cannabis-related inquiries: 

West Side:

The Greater West Town Community Development Project offers two job-training programs: one in woodworking and one in shipping and receiving. Skills taught through the woodworking program include furniture-making, precision measuring, and machine operation. Participants in the shipping program will be taught shipping procedures, forklift operation, and other skills and will also receive aid in job placement and retention support. While not free, financial aid is available for those who qualify.
Location: 500 N Sacramento Blvd., Chicago, IL 60612 (Humboldt Park)
Contact: 312-432-9595

The Safer Foundation provides career training and transitional jobs. Safer also runs a clothing assistance program for returning citizens who need business attire for an interview, and offers one-on-one financial assistance for issues including tax preparation, debt reduction, and medical bills.
Location: 571 W Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60661 (West Loop)
Contact: 312-922-2200

The Michael Barlow Center—run by St. Leonard’s Ministries—offers jobs training, placement and retention services to returning citizens. The Center’s job training programs are industry specific and include a 10-week program for building maintenance, an 11-week program in food service, and others. Graduates of these programs can then receive assistance from the Center’s Employment & Retention Specialist for job referrals and other job-securing aid.
Location: 2100 W. Warren Blvd., Chicago IL 60612 (Near West Side)
Contact: 312-894-7975

North Lawndale Employment Network: The NLEN mission is to improve the earnings potential of North Lawndale residents through innovative employment initiatives. U-Turn Permitted is NLEN’s 8-day job readiness training program for job-seekers with any criminal legal involvement, where participants learn essential skills to succeed in the workplace.

Sweet Beginnings, LLC. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network. It offers full-time transitional jobs to citizens returning from incarceration in a green industry—the production and sales of all-natural skin care products featuring its own urban honey.
Location: 1111 S. Homan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60624
Contact: 773-638-1825


Elite Re-Entry Program: Elite Re-Entry is a soft-skills jobs training program designed to equip returning citizens with the mindset and the discipline they need to succeed in the working world. Participants graduate from the program with job leads and the skills to take control of their own lives.
Location: Dream Center Peoria, 714 Hamilton Blvd., Floor 2, Peoria, IL 61603
Contact: 309-248-0211

First Followers: First Followers began as a drop-in center in 2015, to meet with people coming home from prison and assist them in finding housing, employment and reconnecting to the community. Since that time, they have  grown immensely, and now run a workforce development program for emerging adults called GoMAD (Make A Difference); a transition house for people coming home from prison, support groups for individuals impacted by violence and incarceration, hosting community events to prevent violence and constantly advocating for the advancement of the rights of those with felony convictions.
Location: 314 Cottage Court, Champaign, IL 61820
Drop-In Center hours: 1-5 p.m. Tues. & Thurs
Contact: 217-607-1131

Peoria Rescue Ministries. Faith-based programs for men and women to help them transition from prison and/ or addiction. The programs include Bible study, classes, addiction & substance abuse support, and job readiness training.
Location: 601 SW Adams, Peoria, IL 61602
Contact: 309-676-6416


Our Brothers Keeper of Southern Illinois. OBK assists returning citizens in attaining productive citizenship through an array of reentry services, including counseling, life and employment skills training, and referrals to supportive services in order to build community, family and faith-based relationships. OBK reaches out to all social and human services providers, faith communities and government agencies, and to businesses, to help in the process of full inclusion.
Location: 614 N. 7th Street, East St. Louis, IL  62201-3085
Contact: 618-271-7821

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. Offers an Employment Skills School (ESS), a six-week computer-based program designed for returning citizens who are seeking employment. The program is offered in Marion, IL. A six-week, computer-based program, especially designed for returning citizens, and covers all aspects of employment training, from resume writing to interview skills.
Location: Administrative Offices, 1001 E. Touhy Avenue, Suite 50, Des Plaines, IL 60018
Contact: 618-997-9076
Email: (Marilyn Tucker).