Why We Exist
After serving periods of incarceration, men and women returning to our communities face an array of daunting challenges. Potential employers may refuse or be reluctant to hire formerly incarcerated individuals. Finding housing is another challenge, as many landlords require a criminal background check and certain felony convictions preclude eligibility for Section 8 or other housing assistance. Formerly incarcerated people may also find it difficult to access basic health care services and other benefits. If a recently released person can’t obtain these necessities, it’s more likely that he or she will return to prison.
Unpaid fees, costs, financial support obligations, or other debt make things even harder. There are few sources of assistance or financing for the formerly incarcerated. Most are ineligible for bank loans or lines of credit. Payday and car title loans have extremely high interest rates and burdensome repayment terms that often lead to default. With few available options, many formerly incarcerated individuals return to the criminal choices that led to their incarceration. In short, unpaid financial obligations can make it almost impossible to have a fair chance of successfully re-entering society.
Founded in 2017, the Fountain Fund helps recently released individuals legitimately overcome their financial barriers and get resettled in their communities. The Fund provides low-interest loans to formerly incarcerated people — our Client Partners — who are working to successfully reenter their communities. Repaid principal and interest are reinvested in the Fund, which increases capacity to serve more individuals.
Instead of relying on a traditional credit score, the Fund evaluates each applicant’s ability to pay back the loan. The ideal candidate is a formerly incarcerated individual with both financial need and a clear plan for achieving personal success. These loan funds allow the formerly incarcerated to overcome the financial barriers to obtaining a license, job, residence, and other hallmarks of a successful return to their community.
Along with financially investing in our Client Partners, the Fund provides additional support to help them achieve success. As a condition of receiving a loan, recipients attend financial literacy training covering topics such as household budgeting, balancing a checkbook and saving. To help Client Partners establish and increase their credit scores, the Fund reports monthly payments to all three credit bureaus.