Program Overview

The Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI), a program within the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), is a field placement option for Masters of Social Work (MSW) students.  The mission of the GRI is to break the recidivism cycle for men and women exiting the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS) while increasing clinical and macro competencies for Master of Social Work (MSW) students in the fields of criminal justice and reentry.

Through the GRI, clinical and macro MSW students gain knowledge and skills through a variety of activities, including:

  • individual sessions with currently and previously incarcerated men and women
  • a weekly group seminar
  • resource sharing with peers
  • weekly supervision from a licensed social worker
  • interdisciplinary coordination with community providers
  • opportunities to research and discuss intersections of mass incarceration
  • advocacy and awareness building—particularly through the GRI’s annual Breaking Down Walls community event

Program Design

The continuum of care model within which the GRI operates is designed to bridge the service gap between jail and the community in order to support clients in the transition process.  MSW interns work with men and women for approximately the last three months of their incarceration in the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS) and approximately the first three months post-release in the community.  Prior to a client’s release from the PPS, the client works with the GRI intern to complete a comprehensive discharge plan that focuses on the unique strengths, goals, and needs of each individual.  The discharge plan addresses identification, physical and mental health, education, employment, benefits, housing, drug and alcohol issues, family reunification, and community support.  Developing this document allows the GRI intern to assist the client in accessing services and working toward goal attainment.  The role of the social work intern is crucial, as limited accessibility to resources and inadequate support significantly increases the likelihood of recidivating.