A masked representative from the Fortune Society speaks into a News12 microphone.

Grantee Spotlight: The Fortune Society

Since 1967, The Fortune Society has helped thousands of formerly incarcerated people successfully reenter the community. Fortune serves as a one-stop shop for thousands of people returning home from prison or jail and supports them in overcoming challenges to accessing education, employment, affordable housing, substance abuse treatment, healthcare, and family services. Fortune offers low-threshold access to supportive emergency, transitional, and permanent housing at its congregate facilities, Fortune Academy (“the Castle”), and Castle Gardens, along with its scatter-site housing program. Fortune prioritizes the hiring of the formerly incarcerated at all levels of the organization and is renowned for its commitment to providing culturally competent services to individuals impacted by the justice system.

Stanley Richards looks to a man off-camera. He's giving a tour of a room inside Castle Gardens, a supportive housing facility run by the Fortune Society.
Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President at the Fortune Society, gives Trinity Vestry members a tour of its Castle Gardens location.

Currently, there is momentum to advance policy at the state and local levels to end discrimination in housing and employment for justice-involved individuals, to close the jails on Rikers Island, eliminate bail and pre-trial detention for minor offenses, and to advocate for the rights of immigrants in detention. For advocacy efforts to be effective, justice-involved individuals must guide and inform key reform discussions and policy development. Fortune is addressing this need through its Policy Center.

Fortune serves 9,225 individuals with employment, education, health, housing, food, and nutrition; alternatives to incarceration; and other services through a holistic suite of twelve programs that provide participants with the tools and support they need. Fortune’s policy and advocacy work are having a critical impact on the lives of justice-involved men and women. It played a significant role in ending solitary confinement in Rikers Island jails by joining the HALT Solitary Confinement campaign, which saw an important victory with the New York State Legislature passing legislation that the governor signed into law.

Fair Chance for Housing rally, where masked protestors hold signs reading "Housing is a Human Right."
Fortune Society staff, participants and volunteers walk the streets of New York to participate in the Fair Chance for Housing Rally on August 19, 2020.

In a major step for the Fair Chance for Housing campaign, which Fortune co-leads with the Institute for Justice and Opportunity at John Jay College, the Fair Chance for Housing Act was reintroduced to the New York City Council to end housing discrimination against people with justice involvement.