Fellowship Openings

Prioritizing Social Services Over Incarceration to Serve the Most Vulnerable (CLOSED)

Project: Prioritizing Social Services Over Incarceration to Serve the Most Vulnerable

Agency: City of Philadelphia Office of Criminal Justice

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Project Context

The City of Philadelphia has reduced the local jail population by almost 26% over the past three years. Nevertheless, Philadelphia still has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the nation with, over 25,000 people returning to local communities from incarceration each year. Furthermore, the re-entry population experiences high rates of recidivism, with over 50% of people released from the Philadelphia Department of Prisons re-incarcerated within three years. These returning citizens are some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents, and disproportionately low-income and people of color. They are also more likely than the average Philadelphian to struggle with mental illness, substance use disorder, chronic physical health conditions, and housing insecurity or homelessness. Access to social support systems is necessary to break intergenerational cycles of recidivism and poverty, and improve health, social, and economic outcomes. Building the capacity to systematically connect the criminal justice and public social service systems would enable Philadelphia to more proactively address the root causes of justice system involvement, and more effectively target discriminatory policies, socioeconomic inequities, and structural injustices.

Creating a more coordinated approach to providing social services to the formerly incarcerated is a priority for Philadelphia, and the City is targeting efforts to address the root causes of criminal justice system involvement through several initiatives including: Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, the workforce strategy that identifies returning citizens as a key population to connect to family-sustaining careers, training, and wraparound services; The Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in Philadelphia, which issued a report of recommendations last May to combat opioid addiction and provide greater access to treatment and support for those in recovery, many of whom have been involved in the criminal justice system; Stepping Up, a national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails by creating alternatives to incarceration and opportunities for treatment; and Police Assisted Diversion, a pilot project in one police district that gives officers discretion to divert those with substance use disorders to treatment at the point of arrest. Finally, underlying these programs is the City’s Data Sharing and Service Coordination Initiative, which is developing a legal and technological framework to rapidly share individual-level data for the purposes of policy development and service coordination.

Through the above-mentioned initiatives and advances in data sharing, Philadelphia is poised to meaningfully integrate the services provided across Public Safety and Health and Human Services at the individual level. To support this work, the City will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will work with key stakeholders to create a more targeted and coordinated approach to providing social services to the formerly incarcerated or justice-involved.

Project Summary & Potential deliverables  

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will begin his or her work by assessing the challenges and opportunities in integrating the existing social services network with the criminal justice system. This work will be informed by engaging city agencies and key stakeholders including people who have been through the criminal justice system and can provide insights from lived-experiences. An important element of this role will be the fellow’s ability to collaborate with stakeholders and garner support to ensure that all parties are in agreement around policy recommendations and advancing a shared vision. The fellow should also have strong experience with data driven decision making that will inform the assessment.

Based on the results of this initial assessment, the fellow will develop measurable goals for the City’s work around coordination of the two systems, with specific strategies for achieving coordination and alignment to deliver better results over the next 3-5 years. At the end of the fellowship, the fellow will publish a one-year progress report that outlines the contributions of stakeholders, including government agencies and cross-sector partners, and discuss the successes and challenges of the year’s work and what changes can be made to improve the project going forward.

  • Assess and Evaluate Integration of Social Services with Criminal Justice: Complete a landscape assessment of the existing and possible areas of integration between the City’s criminal justice and social services systems. Identify any discriminatory policies that create obstacles or barriers for target populations in accessing public resources. Research best practices from other major cities including how to best align with and support individual stability and community integration.
  • Develop an Implementation Plan: Identify strategic path forward that incorporates current city efforts related to service coordination within the criminal justice system. Work plan should include key stakeholders, and clearly outline all activities, timelines, roles and responsibilities, and costs of implementation. The fellow will be the primary person responsible for project management, including engaging, convening, and coordinating city agencies and partners regularly, managing the plan deliverables, providing quarterly reports to key stakeholders, and initiating pilot projects that grow out of the plan.
  • Coordinate with City and External Stakeholders: Align project with existing City frameworks and initiatives. Coordinate stakeholder engagement and work with courts, prisons, parole, city agencies, and community non-profits to understand their challenges and get their buy-in for participation, cultivating new and existing relationships in the process.

Key Stakeholders

  • Michael DiBerardinis, Managing Director, City of Philadelphia Managing Director’s Office
  • Julie Wertheimer, Chief of Staff, City of Philadelphia Office of Criminal Justice
  • Mary Horstmann, Chief of Staff, City of Philadelphia Office of the Deputy Managing Director for Health & Human Services
  • Deborah Freedman, Executive Director, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
  • Aviva Tevah, Director, Philadelphia Reentry Coalition


  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in strategic planning and multi-party stakeholder coordination. High preference for prior experience in criminal justice, health care, health services or understanding of how to braid federal funding streams from multiple sources towards a common agenda.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.

To Apply 

Click the link below to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly.

A FUSE Fellowship is a 12-month engagement requiring fellows be primarily committed to their partnership with the government agency throughout the year to ensure the success of their project. Fellows are retained as independent contractors of FUSE Corps and are paid an annual stipend of $90,000 through monthly installments. This commitment begins on September 24, 2018 and ends September 20th, 2019.

The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.