LOUISVILLE, KY. – Today, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky announced a new program aimed at assisting individuals who are transitioning from incarceration and connecting them to employment that leads to self-sufficiency.

The Aspire program will expand on Goodwill’s reintegration services by providing 400 incarcerated individuals with pre-release job training and supportive services. Once released from prison, Goodwill will guide participants through barrier-removal services, job placement, career coaching, family reunification and more holistic resources.

Funded by a $3,995,264 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Pathway Home 4 Program, Aspire will assist individuals within 90 days of release from prison and returning to Louisville from Jan. 1, 2024, to Dec. 31, 2025, by going into and providing services to seven Kentucky correctional facilities and two reentry centers. The final year of the grant program (Jan. 1, 2026, to Dec. 31, 2026) is designated for data collection, follow-up and reporting. The top priority of the program is to guide individuals to credential attainment and job placement, with a benchmark to reduce recidivism in the commonwealth.

At the press conference, Goodwill President and CEO Amy Luttrell joined other Goodwill officials and Louisville Deputy Mayor David James in detailing the grant and program.

“This grant will allow Goodwill to connect with people through our Opportunity Centers who will shortly be returning to society from incarceration and ensure that they have the support they need to make a new, strong start,” said Luttrell. “Kentucky needs the talents of all her citizens, and this will help make that possible.”

In September, Goodwill announced Jessie Ferguson as its director of prison and justice initiatives and leader of the Aspire program. Ferguson joined Goodwill after serving as warden of the Roederer Correctional Complex, one of the program’s pilot institutions, since 2019. Ferguson will hire eight employees for the program.

“Working with our Aspire participants will not only benefit the individuals, but we will also see positive impacts in our communities,” Ferguson said. “We at Goodwill are so proud to be given this opportunity to further our mission to provide pathways out of poverty for Kentucky’s most vulnerable populations.”

After receiving pre-release services from the Aspire program, participants will reside in the Louisville area and participate in a work-and-learn program for a minimum of 90 days. While employed, they will study to earn credentialing and also participate in the incentivized Aspire workshops, where mentoring, mental health and job readiness will be highlighted at Goodwill Opportunity Centers. Leaders of the Aspire program will follow up with participants up to one year after placement while they attain self-sufficiency in careers across the commonwealth.

Pilot institutions partnering with Goodwill’s Aspire program are the Roederer Correctional Complex (La Grange), Luther Luckett Correctional Complex (La Grange), Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women (Pewee Valley) and Blackburn Correctional Complex (Lexington). Additional institutions include the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex (Fredonia), Little Sandy Correctional Complex (Sandy Hook) and Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex (West Liberty). Pilot reentry centers for the Aspire program are St. Patrick’s (Louisville) and Portland (Louisville).

To help provide holistic services to participants of the Aspire program, Goodwill has also partnered with KentuckianaWorks (job-readiness training), Jefferson Community and Technical College (credentialing), the Transformative Justice Mental Health Clinic (mental health counseling, high risk), Maryhurst (mental health counseling), Martin & Muir (addiction counseling), Mission Behind Bars & Beyond (mentoring), Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (employer and job-readiness training) and Legal Aid Society (expungement and legal services).

For more information about this program as it is made available or to learn more about Goodwill’s reentry services and impact on its Kentucky communities, visit GoodwillKY.org.

About Goodwill Industries of Kentucky

Goodwill Industries of Kentucky is a 100-year-old nonprofit organization that operates in 103 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. The organization is committed to using resources from its 67 retail stores to help build pathways out of poverty for individuals who need a hand up in life. In 2022, Goodwill helped place 2,368 Kentuckians into jobs with 877 of its employer partners and inside its own retail stores. Goodwill uses approximately 90 cents from every dollar generated in its retail stores to operate programs and services that help Kentucky’s hardest-to-serve job seekers build the life they desire.