Sen. Judy Schwank and Berks Connections/Pretrial Services (BCPS) announced Wednesday that BCPS received $100,000 in grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to support the Pardon Project of Berks County.
Pardon Projects pair individuals seeking a pardon with trained pardon coaches who guide them through the application process free of charge.
In November of 2021, Schwank, BCPS, and Berks County District Attorney John Adams announced the beginning of the Pardon Project of Berks County’s pilot program. The program’s guidelines and eligibility criteria were developed with input from Adams, Magisterial District Judge Tonya Butler, Executive Director of the Berks County Bar Association Executive Kori Walter, and then Berks County Bar Association President Justin Bodor.
“Getting a pardon can transform an individual’s life by opening doors to a variety of opportunities that are too often closed for people who’ve made a mistake,” Schwank said.
“The mission of Pardon Project is worthy of support, and I’m committed to ensuring it succeeds in Berks County. Growing the program is the logical next step after a successful pilot period and significant community interest. I’m excited to see what it will become once a full-time staff member is fully devoted to Pardon Project.”
The grant funding will go towards 18 months of salary for a full-time Pardon Project Coordinator and other costs associated with bolstering the program.
“We are so thankful for Sen. Schwank’s assistance in securing these funds,” said BCPS Co-Executive Director Nikki Schnovel. “The ability to have a dedicated Pardon Project Coordinator who is trained in the process will not only assure that participants working with Pardon Project of Berks County will be submitting a strong application with a higher likelihood of success, but will also increase the amount of participants that we can assist, allowing for a greater impact on the community!”
More information about the Pardon Project of Berks County can be found by visiting berksconnections.org/pardonprojectofberkscounty.