Wilmington Alliance announced a two-year partnership with Friendship House to remove barriers to getting employment for those who have been through the justice system.
The Alliance donated $71,000 to the Friendship House Fines and Fees Fund. Through the fund, financial assistance is provided for lifting capias, covering new state IDs, new state driver licenses, or Delaware birth certificates or other costs that limit individuals’ movement through the expungement or pardon process. This funding does not support parking and/or speeding tickets, back child support or other circumstances unrelated to the expungement and pardon processes.
Since 2021, Wilmington Alliance has served as the agency for a citywide workforce development collaborative, helping to connect neighborhoods, businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders in creating pathways and removing barriers to employment for nontraditional or those who have been part of the justice system.
Friendship House, a member of the collaborative, launched the Fines and Fees Fund in partnership with the Campaign to End Debtor’s Prison to reduce those barriers.
“We cannot realistically say that we are working to help people have a second chance in life when they cannot advance through the expungement process because they are not able to pay court fees”, said Renata B. Kowalczyk, CEO of Wilmington Alliance. “To the extent that we can, we should be supporting our partner organizations like the Friendship House that are deliberately breaking down barriers to self-sufficiency and success.”
“It is very difficult to navigate the system without proper resources. The system is designed to hold people accountable for their actions; however, the level of accountability required can be an impossible bar to reach for so many in our state. This results in impossible barriers to overcome. Our goal is to help break down systematic barriers in front of people so they can keep moving towards achieving their own goals,” said Kim Eppehimer, Friendship House Executive Director & CEO. “At Friendship House, we truly believe everyone deserves a place to call home – but you can’t do that without proper income or a loving, supportive community. This is a step towards equalizing the playing field for many people. We are thrilled for this partnership.”
In addition to this two-year partnership and contributing to the Fines and Fees Fund, Wilmington Alliance continues its financial support to other partner organizations including NERDiT CARES, Code Differently and YWCA in the forms of stipends for the training participants and free access to Apricot360 and the North Star Digital Literacy platforms.