Center for Transformative Action

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

Ultimate Re-entry Opportunity (URO) is dedicated to supporting individuals reintegrating into society after incarceration. Founded in 2014, its mission is to eliminate systemic barriers to re-entry in Tompkins County by working collaboratively with those impacted by incarceration, governmental policymakers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, and community members to make structural changes.

The project was founded to address a lack of resources available to help with job placement, housing, healthcare, transportation access, and stigma associated with a criminal record. These challenges often led to a cycle of incarceration and re-offending.

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The model of our organization is ‘humans humanizing humans’. Dehumanization is why we have a mass carceral system instead of a mass educated, flourishing system.

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Taili Mugambee has served as the director since 2017. He has a background in education, counseling, and advocacy for underrepresented groups. The path that led Taili to his current role involved experiences with racism in academia, teaching in underprivileged schools, and seeing firsthand the challenges students face in getting an equitable education. At URO he aims to facilitate systemic change around reentry and recidivism after incarceration.

One of the project’s current initiatives is a community book read of ‘My Grandmother’s Hands’. The book is read and discussed over six in-person sessions, fostering dialogue and awareness about generational and racial trauma, and how our community can incorporate meaningful practices to diminish trauma’s impact.

This year URO also secured funding to pilot the Beyond the Box employer certification program, which stands as a pivotal step in reducing stigma against hiring individuals with criminal records.

“Beyond the Box employers will look at how we connect and understand what people are going through in our community right now, especially those folks in re-entry,” says Taili. “How do we adjust the workplace environment so that it’s conducive, equitable, and inclusive?”
These initiatives contribute to societal understanding while also offering tangible pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals.

URO has also offered direct support to formerly incarcerated individuals through the Healthful Transitions program by providing meals, transportation, counseling, and training. Partnerships with organizations like Healthy Food for All, Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, and Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources (OAR) open doors to access to additional services such as low-barrier, affordable housing and highly subsidized weekly access to fresh, local produce.

Tali described the positive, enthusiastic support URO receives from the Center for Transformative Action, its fiscal sponsor.
“We have our yes people and our no people. CTA is full of yes people. CTA is full of smiling people. People who are enthusiastic about seeing your initiative flourish.”

He describes the staff as responsive, invested, and willing to adjust to help URO be successful in its mission, offering a level of care and attention that makes a major difference in URO accomplishing its goals.

Ultimate Re-entry Opportunity, with the support of its community, partners, and the Center for Transformative Action, continues to make significant strides in creating avenues for our community partners to provide comprehensive support for individuals re-entering society after incarceration. URO is transforming lives and breaking the cycle of recidivism, paving the way for a brighter future for the Tompkins County Community.

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