Reading Between the Lines® may help a participant get a job, but its real value is that it helps them keep that job.
— Erwin Mayer, Executive Director, St. Leonard’s Ministries

The Problem

Reading Between the Lines® works with populations who have been historically marginalized and disproportionately imprisoned. African Americans and Latinos account for 70% of the State’s inmates. Recidivism is high and imprisonment is too often an inevitability.

Calculate the costs: Illinois spends $40,000 a year to incarcerate one person, yet 50% return in three years.

Education levels of those leaving prison average between the 8th and 12th grades.

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We are not just a social justice initiative. Our program invests in people by fostering the basic building blocks of sustainable personal and professional relationships. The odds are stacked against our participants in many ways, but the new skills they have gained can help them navigate life after prison—and have a positive ripple effect with family, on the job, and in the community.

Studies show that well-run support and intervention programs can drastically reduce recidivism. Reading Between the Lines® collaborates with transitional living facilities to complement and strengthen the work of other re-entry efforts in lowering that rate. And it does so at a fraction of the cost—yielding a high social return on your investment.


I use Reading Between the Lines® all the time.
— Ray, Past participant
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Reading Between the Lines® is not a traditional educational program. Yet, we build the neglected, critical tools that can be transformative. Our unique approach focuses on invaluable life skills to help women and men:

  • Develop new ways to talk to people and express opinions.

  • Listen and accept different points of view.

  • Learn self-awareness and control.

  • Hear their ideas and voice validated, often for the first time.

  • Recognize their own intellectual capabilities.

  • Build confidence and self-worth.