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SOURCE Getting Out & Staying Out (GOSO)
Annual Benefit celebrates new milestone for unique re-entry program - less than 15% return rate for 16- to 24-year-old men in GOSO, vs. 50% overall return rate for all 16- to 24-year olds coming out of Rikers Island.
Event honors unique collaboration between GOSO and the Departments of Correction and Education, as former inmates' tales of transformation onstage bring the power of GOSO to life.
NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When Mark Goldsmith, founder and CEO of Getting Out and Staying Out (www.gosonyc.org), opened the 8th anniversary celebration of GOSO at the Marriott Essex House on September 17, he credited the program's lowering of the recidivism, or return rate, of 16- to 24-year-old men on Rikers Island to less than 15%, in no small part, to the collaboration of unlikely partners – the Department of Education (http://schools.nyc.gov) and the Department of Correction (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doc/html/home/home.shtml). Goldsmith also cited collaboration with Youth Represent (www.youthrepresent.org) and The Young Men's Clinic of New York Presbyterian Hospital (www.youngmensclinic.org), as well as paid-internship partnerships with The Horticultural Society of New York (www.hsny.org) and Titan Outdoor (www.titan360.com) through Mayor Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative.
More than 250 businesspeople, nonprofit professionals, corrections personnel and educators turned out to honor the organization along with Dora B. Schriro, Commissioner of the Department of Correction, and Timothy F. Lisante, Superintendent of District 70 (alternative high schools) for the Department of Education – whose commitment has been vital to GOSO's effectiveness. For GOSO, the focus was on raising money to expand its successful Job Development Curriculum and paid-internship initiatives.
"I've evaluated programs in 16 cities, and I haven't seen anything as effective as Getting Out & Staying Out," said Lisante.
The unusual, powerful celebration gave the stage to personal tales of young men who have broken the prison cycle to get jobs and pursue college degrees. The stars of the Benefit were GOSO members who are embarking on lives that were once unimaginable to them – attending college, working on-the-books jobs, and building families. From the stage, six members told their stories, calling out GOSO and supporting organization people who had helped them most.
"GOSO showed me the streets don't make me; I make me," said a 22-year-old who "never thought [he'd] leave [his] block." He's now a full-time college student majoring in economics and fashion while working at Fortune Society (www.shnny.org). "I've never felt more complete or more ambitious," said the 24-year-old who spent seven years in the prison system and is now in college aiming at law school while working part-time for a law firm.
Begun eight years ago when former cosmetics executive Mark L. Goldsmith started mentoring a handful of inmates on Rikers Island and, once released, at an Upper East Side Starbucks, GOSO has grown to serve more than 3,000 young men. Members now come to the GOSO headquarters on 116th Street in East Harlem to participate in GOSO's Job Readiness Curriculum and career counseling by a full-time staff of Licensed Social Workers. Members also receive mentoring by GOSO's Board of Directors and other volunteers. Dozens are attending college, and dozens more are working in paid internships – a focus of the evening – as well as full time employment leading to careers.
The program is beating the odds on many levels. In addition to lowering the recidivism rate below 15%, versus more than 67% nationally and 50% for the age group in Rikers, GOSO conservatively calculates that it saves New York City millions of dollars per year. The cost to support a young man in GOSO client is a tiny fraction of the cost to incarcerate him on Rikers Island or in a New York State prison. GOSO accomplishes this through education, job preparedness, mentoring from businesspeople, and paid internships.
"We're filling one of this city's greatest needs, by leveling the playing field," said Goldsmith. "We're providing the support system that's missing for young men getting out of prison: education and jobs that lead to careers. And we've proven that it works. Every major city in this country should have a Getting Out and Staying Out."
About Getting Out & Staying Out
Getting Out & Staying Out, or GOSO (www.gosonyc.org), is a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated 16- to 24-year-old men in New York City. GOSO empowers young men to avoid re-involvement in the criminal justice system by reshaping their futures through educational achievement, meaningful employment, and financial independence. GOSO promotes participants' personal, professional, and intellectual growth by providing goal-oriented programming and comprehensive social services. Since its founding in 2005, GOSO has helped more than 3,000 16- to 24-year-old men achieve educations, jobs and meaningful lives in New York City.
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