BENTON HARBOR — As Michigan’s prison population continues its downward trend, more people are making their way back to local communities in search for employment opportunities.

Michigan Works Berrien, Cass, Van Buren is trying to alleviate this problem through its Offender Success program that was created to help more people find success back home.

The nonprofit organization announced Wednesday that Chemical Bank is donating $15,000 to the program.

“One of our goals was to provide some assistance to the workforce development area this year, and Offender Success is a proven winner,” Chemical Bank Community President Bob Burch said in a news release. “We are glad that even more people can be helped and gain the support they need.”

The donation was made from Chemical Bank’s Community Impact Fund. 

“Chemical Bank’s support will help us as we provide re-entry interventions with a focus on emergency housing and workforce development. Our goal is that every offender released will have the tools needed to succeed in the community and the opportunity to be productive, self-sufficient citizens,” Lily Brewer, executive director of Michigan Works Berrien, Cass, Van Buren, said in the release.

Ranked as one of Michigan’s top prisoner re-entry initiatives, Offender Success provides comprehensive services to more than 1,200 individuals a year.

Serving eight counties in Michigan, Offender Success provides nearly 25,000 services to the returning population, helping individuals remove barriers and gain employment and stability in their lives.

“We assist in four different areas – employment, mental health, social support and residential stability,” Offender Success Director Deke Knuth said in the release. “The targeted interventions aim to reduce crime by having a seamless plan of services, supervision, and opportunities developed with each person with the goal of gaining employment and becoming self-sufficient. We have been successful in reducing recidivism and building a great support network.”