Chrysalis, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit organization, is set to receive a $500,000 federal grant that will be used to help reintegrate ex-offenders back into society.

Officials at the organization, which is dedicated to helping those suffering from poverty and homelessness become self-sufficient through employment opportunities, say it has experienced a 40-percent increase in the number of clients seeking its services over the past year due to the economic downturn.

The grant funding will be used for a program that helps ex-offenders re-enter the work force.

“With California prisons releasing significant numbers of non-violent offenders early in order to address state budget shortfalls, we expect to see significant numbers of new clients that have major barriers to employment,” says Mark Loranger, president and CEO of Chrysalis.

Of the more than 3,000 men and women that the non-profit will assist this year, 70 percent have been incarcerated and 46 percent have been convicted of felonies, he said.

“This population is very vulnerable, often having no place to live or family to turn to when released from prison. They have little hope that they will get a job,” Loranger added. “However, it is possible for ex-offenders to gain employment, earn a paycheck and get their lives back on track.”

The federal funding was at the request of Rep. Roybal-Allard, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the House and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, and it is part of the Omnibus Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2010 spending measure that includes millions of dollars in federal funds for major programs and projects.

“The legislation funds critical workforce training programs that provide job seekers with the skills needed to secure employment in today’s tough job market,” Roybal-Allard said.

The bill was signed by President Barack Obama on December 16th.

Johnny Gutiérrez, who came to Chrysalis in 2004, is one client who says he has benefited from the organization’s resources.

“Before Chrysalis, I was in prison for five and a half years. My self-esteem was very low and I didn’t think that I would be able to get a job,” said Gutiérrez, who has been working as a substance abuse counselor for the past five years and is attending college. “I learned how to put together a resume, learned communications skills and gained self-confidence.”

Information, www.ChangeLives.org/.

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