Description of the Model

5 Principles of Getting Ahead while Getting Out Model

Principle #1

Everyone is seen as a problem solver and co-creator, including returning citizens, their families, professionals from corrections, reentry program staff and volunteers, and members of Bridges Out of Poverty collaboratives. Relationship-based approaches that build social capital across racial and class lines are foundational to a successful community approach.

Example: Everyone involved has access to the planning and decision-making tables to share information, identify problems, and create solutions.

Decision-making responsibilities remain at the individual, agency, and community levels. Under the collaborative approach, however, input is received, and others’ interests are taken into account. Having direct input from those who are reentering the community is vital.

Principle #2

The shared language of Bridges and Getting Ahead, made up of core constructs and commonly held mental models for complex issues, enhances the effectiveness and sustainability of the initiative.

Example: Individuals, institutions, and communities can use Bridges concepts to analyze problems and develop solutions, programs, and policies that provide a foundation that is consistent across sectors.

A common language used by the community makes it possible to make long-term (25-year) commitments. Community and organizational initiatives become deeply rooted and don’t have to live and die with leaders who come and go. Everyone owns the Bridges constructs, and nobody owns the Bridges constructs. It is a shared movement.

Principle #3

A comprehensive approach is necessary, one that starts with a prerelease program and supports people in the processes of stabilization upon release and the development of resources over time.

Example: All causes of recidivism must be addressed, including (1) individual choices and circumstances, (2) community and neighborhood conditions, (3) predatory practices, and (4) political/economic structures.

This approach attracts both people who are conservative and those who are progressive/liberal because it isn’t an either/or approach to the causes of recidivism. This model is “both/and,” thereby honoring the good research on the causes of poverty from the continuum that runs from individual choice and responsibility at one end to systemic factors at the other.

Principle #4

A comprehensive reentry model must be flexible to account for existing programs, local conditions, history, leadership, and resources.

Example: An effective model needs to engage existing programs rather than compete with them—utilizing and collaborating with providers who adhere to best-practice methodology.

Communities can build the Getting Ahead While Getting Out Model over time, adding elements until the complete model is in place. They also can act more quickly by partnering with existing programs, enhancing reentry by combining necessary elements.

Principle #5

The Getting Ahead While Getting Out Model must be data driven. There are two national, web-based providers serving Bridges communities that are available for those using the Getting Ahead While Getting Out model.

Example: Evidence of effectiveness includes a hope scale, stability scale, and a resource development scale for 11 quality-of-life indicators. In addition, the evaluation tools report on return-on-investment (ROI) data and a model fidelity scale.

Local and national data are available to the Getting Ahead While Getting Out sites. The data can be used to support a national learning community of all the Getting Ahead While Getting Out sites that also share best practices.

Elements of the Model
  • Two-book set for offenders and those who provide the Getting Ahead While Getting Out program. Getting Ahead While Getting Out is a workbook for soon-to-be-released offenders in which they will develop a 72-hour stability plan and SMART plans to build 11 resources over time. The accompanying Methodology of Getting Ahead While Getting Out is for those who organize, sponsor, fund, and facilitate the workbook. Trainer certification for facilitators of Getting Ahead While Getting Out will be provided.
  • A similar two-book set, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World and the accompanying facilitator notes, is for family members of those who are incarcerated. It gives family members and returning citizens a common language, learning experience, and plans. Families members can support ex-offenders’ 72-hour stability plans to help them through the first crucial hours of their return. Training for Getting Ahead facilitators will be provided. Unique feature: The Getting Ahead While Getting Out Model has the capacity to link existing Getting Ahead sites and communities with reentry efforts in those communities. If reentry programs don’t exist, the Bridges and Getting Ahead sites can expand their work to include reentry programming.
  • The R Rules by Betti Souther is a two-book set for adolescents and teens that can be used with incarcerated men and women. It would be made available in conjunction with Getting Ahead for family members. Training for facilitators will be provided.
  • Bridges Out of Poverty and Bridges to Sustainable Communities are books and trainings for community collaboratives to use to address poverty in a comprehensive way. Getting Ahead is used to engage people from poverty in solving community problems. The collaboratives already support GA participants as they stabilize their lives and build their resources—and can extend that support to ex-offenders who have used Getting Ahead while Getting Out to make reentry plans. These collaboratives can either join existing reentry programs or develop reentry programs to support men and women returning from incarceration.
    • Unique feature: Existing Bridges Collaboratives already share the language found in Getting Ahead and Getting Ahead while Getting Out. They have engaged many sectors in their community to build opportunities for those who are pursuing the goals developed in GA and Getting Ahead while Getting Out. The sectors participating in these collaboratives include businesses, employers, healthcare, schoolseducation, postsecondary education, courts, police, corrections, social services, government, faith, and early-childhood.
  • Tactical Communication is a book and training designed for corrections staff, parole and probation officers, police and other first responders so they can understand and apply the concepts found in Bridges, GA, and Getting Ahead while Getting Out.
    • Unique feature: Organizations and people from most disciplines can use the core concepts of Bridges and the other books to improve their personal skills, their programs, and the outcomes.
  • Reentry programs that meet best-practice criteria can use the Getting Ahead while Getting Out Model to fill in elements they may not offer—elements such as the pre-release Getting Ahead while Getting Out or GA for families. Similarly Bridges Collaboratives need not create a reentry program but can join existing reentry initiatives (see Appendix).
    • Unique feature: The model encourages cooperation with high-quality, existing reentry programs and seeks to find efficiencies that can quickly impact the lives of returning citizens.
  • Data collection, evaluation, research, and continuous quality improvement are central to the Getting Ahead while Getting Out Model.
    • Pre/post assessment: St. Joseph County (Indiana) Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative offers a pre/post Getting Ahead assessment that reports on such as aspects as motivation, self-efficacy, hope, and self-reflectivity. This assessment provides immediate feedback to GA sites.
    • To learn more, visit SJC Bridges
    • Longer-term evaluations: Getting Ahead while Getting Out, GA sites, and Bridges Communities can choose between 2 web-based providers that have embedded GA and (eventually) Getting Ahead while Getting Out evaluation tools into their software. Charity Tracker and MPOWR have the capacity to collect and report on (1) typical demographics, (2) the stability scale found in Getting Ahead while Getting Out and GA, (3) the Self-Assessment of the 11 Bridges Resources found in Getting Ahead while Getting Out and GA, and (4) return-on-investment information. These evaluations will be done at intervals chosen by the sites, typically at 6 or 12 months. Local and national data and reports also will be available.
    • For more information, visit MPOWR
    • For more information, visit Charity Tracker
    • Getting Ahead app for Getting Ahead while Getting Out and GA graduates: Beacon Voice, LLC offers a free app that documents the growth of stability and resources with trend lines, stories, and photos. It identifies social connections, local supports, and websites; it also highlights immediate action items. The GA app supports the work of Bridges Collaboratives.
    • For more information, visit Beacon Voice
      • Unique feature: Phase I (described above) of the evaluation/assessment package offers unduplicated evaluations and assessments of returning citizens, model fidelity, and program effectiveness. In Phase II, instruments will be added to evaluate outcomes and changes made by institutions, as well as changes and outcomes achieved by communities.
  • Support for sites that implement the Getting Ahead while Getting Out Model includes training for providers; trainer certification for facilitators of Getting Ahead while Getting Out; informational sessions for sponsors, organizers, and funders; and access to webinars, websites, conferences, newsletters, technical support, and consulting services. Getting Ahead while Getting Out sites are encouraged to participate in the Getting Ahead while Getting Out Learning Community, which will have a central website, conference calls, and other opportunities to share best practices.
    • Unique feature: The Getting Ahead while Getting Out Model offers a complete package, rather than a standalone model. It encourages collaboration with other reentry programs and community initiatives. The elements described here can be used as a complete set or can be fitted into other high-quality approaches and programs.

The two mental models below illustrate the elements of the Getting Out reentry model described above and the three-plan reentry mental model that returning citizens create prior to release. The plans they create can to be shared with the returning citizen’s family, as well as members of the Bridges collaboratives and/or reentry program.

Logic Model for Getting Ahead while Getting Out
  • Logic Model for Getting Out
    • Funders and decision makers in Corrections often ask for a logic model for the initiative. This can be used when describing the Getting Ahead while Getting Out Model and/or attached to application forms.


Mental Models

Elements of the Getting Out Reentry Mental Model


The 3-Plan Reentry Mental Model

Getting Ahead Model Fidelity Elements