Cover Stories

Changing Lives: Concordance

Recidivism is an issue that can be easy to dismiss. After all, what effect do reincarceration rates have on our daily lives? The reality is recidivism is the third largest societal issue in the United States, with mass incarceration affecting nearly 100 million people and more than 75% of individuals released from prison being rearrested within five years. “The cycle not only has a devastating impact on incarcerated individuals, but also our society with increased homelessness, unemployment and mental and substance abuse disorders,” says Danny Ludeman, president and CEO of Concordance. The nonprofit is dedicated to advancing the field of re-entry services to help individuals thrive, rebuild families and strengthen the community.

Concordance’s holistic, 18-month program focuses on serving individuals in three core areas: behavioral health and wellness, education and employment, and community and life skills. “There are a lot of incredible organizations in the re-entry space, but the scope of our program sets us apart,” Ludeman says. “We offer 12 essential services under one roof, including integrated, personalized support across substance use and mental health treatment, education, job readiness and employment, pro bono legal services, and more.” Services begin six months before release, and after the program is completed, participants retain their access to clinical and career services as alumni.

According to Ludeman, one reason the situation doesn’t improve is a lack of understanding as to why reincarnation occurs. Around 80% of the national prison population deals with mental illness or substance abuse, and all of Concordance’s participants report experiencing a major childhood trauma. “Most incarcerated individuals experience trauma at a young age,” he explains. “It’s the result of being born into neighborhoods devastated by inequity and often lacking social capital and positive support systems.” Concordance recently received recognition from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), an international accrediting body that establishes and evaluates standards for health and human service programs. Accreditation was achieved through rigorous peer review and onsite assessments as a substance use disorder and mental health treatment center.

The success of Concordance’s program is evident in the numbers. “In June, we celebrated five years of offering re-entry services,” Ludeman says. “In that time, we’ve worked with 900 people and have been able to lower reincarnation by 45% among our participants. It is the support from our community that has allowed us to work toward perfecting our model and provide these essential services.” The nonprofit is currently in the middle of the First Chance campaign, a fundraising initiative chaired by David Steward of WorldWide Technology. The money raised will help the organization expand its operations in St. Louis and bring its program to 11 additional cities in the next five years.

This year, Concordance held a ceremony to honor its program participants, including the 23 members of the most recent graduating class. “This year’s graduates have shown exceptional strength and hope and demonstrated what it means to persevere,” Ludeman says. “They’ve not only dealt with the visible and invisible effects of a global pandemic, but also navigated an 18-month journey of healing to reintegrate into society. I was humbled to be able to hand them their diplomas and see them walk across the stage into their future.”

Concordance is dedicated to advancing the field of re-entry services and helping end the cycle of reincarceration. Pictured on the cover: Jackie Yoon of YFB Consulting, Ken Cella of Edward Jones, Concordance communications and events manager Sivan Fernandez, Concordance president and CEO Danny Ludeman. For more information, call 314.396.6001 or visit concordanceacademy.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at top: Concordance program graduates
Photo courtesy of Concordance

Recommended

Skip to toolbar