PowerNet of Dayton is a grassroots, community based, not-for-profit organization founded in June of 2002 to empower poor inner-city communities to define and enhance their quality of life. After spending our first 12 months doing community organizing, social service and grassroots (door-to-door) research, coalition building, conducting focus groups and think tanks, and building relationships with community and faith based groups from different religious traditions, PowerNet came to the very clear and definitive conclusion that a comprehensive, faith based, family centered ex-offender reentry initiative was the best possible strategy for addressing the greatest challenges, i.e., crime and poverty, which limit the quality of life within inner-city communities.
The subsequent 12 months were dedicated to a national search for best practices and evidenced based programs and attending ex-offender reentry workshops and conferences around the country. It was also very important during this time period to network and build relationships with service providers and major stakeholders to determine our optimal role in addressing reentry in our county. It became apparent to us, based on what we had learned and the current challenges in our community, that reentry had to begin within the prison before individuals are released. We also determined that this reentry program needed to be strength-based and begin at least one year prior to release to allow us to both build the type of relationships with the inmates which allows us to advocate for the services, resources and opportunities to support their successful re-integration and also to provide enough time for individuals to develop the type of attitude, thinking, behaviors and habits that will serve them best upon release.
After researching the literature and programs operating across the US, PowerNet created the GEM Leadership Development Program which identifies highly motivated individuals with felony records who want to change their lives and help them to create a personal vision, develop a career plan and then to access the opportunities to realize their goals. PowerNet is committed to working with or supporting the work of any organization or group which can help to provide or access the resources and services these individuals and their families need to be successful.