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ReMerge of Oklahoma County to benefit from Pay for Success contract

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —

OKLAHOMA CITY – ReMerge of Oklahoma County has received a Pay for Success Contract with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and the Impact Accelerator.

This project was made possible by the Pay for Success Act created by House Bill 2670, which was signed into law in 2019. The bill established a way for the state to engage in public-private partnerships to provide cost-savings to the state, while promoting social benefit.

Pay for Success provides upfront funding from private investors for a promising program expected to improve outcomes for participants and save taxpayer dollars.

In this case, the Impact Accelerator, a subsidiary of MetaFund, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), has provided the capital needed for the upfront investment in ReMerge’s outcomes over the next five years.

“The Pay for Success model allows the state, private funders, and our non-profit to join in a public-private partnership that generates long-term cost savings while producing incredibly valuable public benefits,” said Jenna Morey, ReMerge Executive Director.

The initial investment will be an expected $144,000 each year for the next five years.

“The Impact Accelerator is honored to serve as an intermediary connecting philanthropic capital to projects with sustainable social impact in Oklahoma,” said Ed Long, Vice President of MetaFund.

“With investments from the Advance Legacy Fund, Arnall Family Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation, MetaFund, and Potts Family Foundation, we support impact-driven strategies that make it possible for all Oklahomans to thrive,” Long added.

Through a contract with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the state will only make payments based on successful outcomes of ReMerge programming. It is expected that these payments will be substantially less than the usual direct cost of incarceration, saving the state money, while ensuring positive outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens.

This relationship improves costs for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and provides needed capital for ReMerge to sustain and grow successful programming.

“The Oklahoma Department of Corrections looks forward to the partnership with ReMerge as they employ gender-responsive criminal justice practices to address the specific pathways for justice-involved women,” said Millicent Newton-Embry, Chief of Strategic Engagement, Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

“The identified outcome measures provide accountability as well as opportunities for these women to change the trajectory of their lives by addressing assessed criminogenic needs,” Newton-Embry added. “The use of evidence-based strategies provides cost savings to our state while also building hope and resilience in the lives of these women and the families they represent.”

Jenna Morey, Executive Director for ReMerge said, “We are grateful to the Impact Accelerator for fueling this opportunity. We are fortunate to have a strong partnership with the Department of Corrections and are thankful to the state for creating such an innovative pathway to make an impact on our entire community.

“When mothers are strong, families are strong. When families are strong, our community is strong,” Morey continued. “ReMerge is proud to be a national leader in serving women facing incarceration with 10 years of proven results to rely on as we gladly accept the support of Pay for Success.”

ReMerge’s mission is to restore mothers and families through a comprehensive diversion program of treatment, recovery and hope. ReMerge serves mothers of minor children, who are facing non-violent felony charges in Oklahoma County.

The organization utilizes evidence-based treatment and programming to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services like safe and sober housing, addiction recovery, healthcare, transportation, education, and pathways to employment for ReMerge mothers.

Oklahoma has incarcerated more women per capita than anywhere else in the world for nearly three decades.

In 2010, the Inasmuch Foundation and the United Way of Central Oklahoma convened a group of 25 community leaders to address the rate at which Oklahoma incarcerates women and the trauma that occurs within a family when a mother goes to prison. This group identified an approach that would remove barriers and provide a path for more successful futures for mothers who battle cycles of trauma, poverty and incarceration.

Officially launched in 2011, ReMerge was founded on a collective impact model and designed around comprehensive programming and support. Since that time, ReMerge has graduated 149 women who parent a total of 372 children.

ReMerge has saved the state of Oklahoma more than $32 million dollars by providing a pathway for mothers to be restored to the community rather than incarcerated and separated from their children.

For more information, visit remergeok.org.

ReMerge of Oklahoma County has received a Pay for Success Contract with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, which provides upfront funding from private investors for a program expected to improve outcomes for participants and save taxpayer dollars. File photo