Level Ground has four measurable goals:
- To improve the quality of life of former inmates as they reenter the community;
- To reduce the number of former inmates who return to prison;
- To save Georgia taxpayers money, through reducing the budget of the Department of Corrections;
- To provide an experience in which mentors grow in their mentoring skills, and in which mentors - and individual donors - discover additional dimensions of gratitude.
Level Ground serves former inmates from Walker State Prison through a voluntary one-on-one mentoring relationship, beginning four or more weeks before they are released from prison, and continuing weekly for approximately one year following their release. A Level Ground mentor meets weekly with the former inmate with the following methods:
- Providing a reference point and role model, while listening with a focus on the former inmate's motivation to rebuild his life in a positive manner;
- Supporting the former inmate as he identifies the outcomes he wants to accomplish - especially in the areas of housing, employment, education and job training, any addiction issues, and any family relationships.
- Encouraging the former inmate in a consistent, trustworthy manner as he develops realistic options, makes decisions, and takes practical actions to accomplish measurable steps towards his desired outcomes;
- Providing information (with the assistance of Level Ground staff) about social work resources that are available to assist the former inmate in achieving his desired outcomes.
Level Ground measures the degree to which these goals are accomplished through:
Leap of Reason
- Tracking the extent to which mentees (former inmates) avoid recidivism at 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and 24 months post-release;
- Analyzing the extent to which, on a scale from 1 to 10, the mentee's goals are being accomplished;
- Quantifying the Georgia taxpayers' annual savings, based on the rate of recidivism within the Level Ground mentee group as compared to a statistical control rate of recidivism. Level Ground also tracks the average annual cost of providing the mentoring relationship to a mentee;
- Monitoring the extent to which, on a scale from 1 to 10, mentors experience satisfaction with their training, with their support from Level Ground, with the outcomes they observe and facilitate in a mentee's life, and with their sense of additional dimensions of gratitude. The extent to which individual donors experience additional dimensions of gratitude as a result of their supporting the Level Ground program is also tracked.
- Evaluating the number of mentoring sessions and the duration of each mentoring relationship, and the correlation between this data and successful outcomes.
In Leap of Reason - Managing to Outcomes in an Age of Scarcity
, Mario Morino writes, “Managing to outcomes is a necessity for any mission-focused organization that wants to create meaningful, measurable, sustainable change for those it serves” (p. xvi). He also writes, “The simple question that has served me best throughout my business and nonprofit careers is ‘To what end’?” (p. 5). Level Ground intentionally aligns its program culture, planning, purpose and outcomes with Morino's statement, “Every ounce of our effort on assessing social outcomes should be with one end in mind: helping nonprofits deliver greater benefits to those they serve.” (p. 6)
Level Ground is committed to serving former inmates, Georgia taxpayers, and the mentors and donors who support the program. Through measuring and monitoring the outcomes identified above, Level Ground will continuously evaluate the results attained and modify the program to optimize its ability to achieve its goals.