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Project RETURN

Over forty years ago, Cross Lutheran Church brought together community stakeholders to address the challenge of high prison recidivism rates in Milwaukee. Project RETURN was born as a pilot project that quickly grew into a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that helps people make a positive and permanent return to community, family, and friends.

Primary Focus Area: Ex-offender Employment and Re-entry

Requesting Funds for Operating Support

Operating Budget: $624,600

Lutheran Affiliation: ELCA


  • Clients get help with identifying employment goals, creating a resume, finding job leads, and preparing for interviews as a path to self-sustainability.

  • Project RETURN works with landlords to create housing opportunities for clients.

  • Circles of Support, which include volunteers from several Lutheran congregations, have continued to thrive even during the pandemic, whether meeting virtually or in person. Circles provide a lifeline to clients, offering connection and support. Support groups include the women’s support group, alumni support group, AODA treatment groups, Life Skills classes, and Circles of Support.

  • Project RETURN is moving forward with plans to become directly involved as a housing provider for individuals returning from incarceration.

Who is Served: Of the 16,700 formerly incarcerated individuals and individuals who are under extended supervision (probation or parole) in Milwaukee County at any given time, almost all are unemployed or underemployed at the time Project RETURN begins working with them. Many are homeless and in crisis at first. Also, per the Department of Corrections, 69% of Wisconsin’s prison inmates have alcohol or drug abuse treatment needs.

Location: 2821 Vel R Phillips Ave, Suite 223, Milwaukee, WI 53212


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