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Wells Fargo donates $60M for program to help former inmates

Christina Lee Knauss //August 2, 2023//

Wells Fargo donates $60M for program to help former inmates

Christina Lee Knauss //August 2, 2023//

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South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling discussed his hopes for the Concordance program coming to South Carolina's Upstate as an effort to help former inmates. (Photo/Christina Lee Knauss)


Former inmates returning to the community will be able to get help and workforce training through a new program coming to South Carolina.

Concordance, a non-profit based in Missouri, is partnering with Wells Fargo and the South Carolina Department of Corrections to open a center in the Greenville area that will offer mental health and substance abuse treatment services, job training and other services for the formerly incarcerated. Concordance, founded in 2016, is planning to eventually open 39 centers around the country.

The partnership was announced Wednesday, Aug. 2, at the South Carolina State House in Columbia.

Wells Fargo is giving $60 million to Concordance to expand its facilities nationwide, including the Concordance center in the Greenville-Spartanburg area. An exact location and opening for the Upstate location have not been determined.  Wells Fargo officials said their  grant is focused on advancing financial health and stability for Concordance participants across all of their locations, including Greenville-Spartanburg when that facility opens.

Since launching in 2016, Concordance has helped to reduce reincarceration by 56% among its participants in Missouri. Officials said South Carolina was selected as the nonprofit’s first expansion site because of the state’s record low rate of recidivism at only 17%.  

Bryan Stirling, director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, said the partnership with Concordance is a way to continue that positive trend.

“Businesses that are number one at what they do don’t want to rest on their laurels — they want to continually improve,” Stirling said. “That’s what we want to do with this program. We want to take our recidivism rate even lower and help transform the lives of those who were incarcerated. This will also transform their families and eventually the economy as they enter the workforce.”

The Concordance program is different than some other programs for the formerly incarcerated because of its focus on helping participants heal from past trauma, said Danny Ludeman, CEO of Concordance.

Ludeman said the common denominator among the 1,600 men and women the organization has served in Missouri is going through a severe traumatic experience as a child, usually by the age of 9.

Condordance offers an 18-month program for participants that begins six months before their release and then continues for a year after they are released, and includes therapy to heal from trauma as well as other mental health and substance abuse treatment. Participants also get employment training, begin with part-time jobs and eventually move on to full-time employment.

Stirling said the Upstate was selected for the Concordance center because currently about 20% of the 6,000 people the Department of Corrections releases each year wind up in that region.

“Setting people up for success through this program will transform the lives of former inmates and their families, make the area safer and eventually save tax dollars,” Stirling said. South Carolina currently spends about $32,247 per inmate per year.