We support central Iowans returning from prison.

Launched in fall 2018, CIRCA has so far assisted 332 individuals returning to Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties after incarceration. CIRCA helps connect participants with employment, housing, and other services in the community. 

Of CIRCA participants enrolled through 2020: 

  • 95% were placed in post-release employment or education.
  • 87% attained credentials.
  • 75% were employed in their follow-up year.


The average Iowa recidivism rate is 39.8%. The goal of CIRCA is to reduce the number of returning citizens who commit another crime to less than 20%. Through 2020, 6.3% of those in the CIRCA program reoffended within one-year post-release. 


CIRCA works only with individuals who are incarcerated within the facilities below and who, upon release, are returning to Polk, Dallas, or Warren counties.

  • Iowa Correctional Facility for Women in Mitchellville
  • Newton Correctional Facility

Want to become more engaged in this work?

Join an OpportUNITY Work Group!

Work groups are bonded by their desire to strengthen our community and a passion to help people while holding one another accountable to ensure that the work is accomplished. Each month our work groups and their subgroups find ways to educate, advocate, participate, and communicate for change in our community.

OpportUNITY's Re-Entry Work Group

By supporting returning citizens, it's an opportunity to turn around a life, avoid future victims, repair a family, and support a community. To ensure that returning citizens have a successful transition back to our community, this work group is addressing their multiple needs.

I Want to Learn More

"This grant offers crucial support for successful re-entry of individuals returning to our community from incarceration. We are excited to collaborate with trusted experts to expand our efforts of supporting the growth and development of Economic Opportunity for more individuals
and families."

- Mary Sellers, President, United Way of Central Iowa

The project works with individuals in the following ways: 

  • Support in securing a job, with a focus on connecting people to jobs in construction, retail and food service, transportation distribution, and logistics.

  • Access to additional education and training as needed.

  • Personal development training.

  • Legal assessment and some additional support for legal issues.

  • Case management to work through challenges based on a successful model in Texas.

Why it's needed

  • Each year, 5,000 citizens return to Iowa after serving time in state prisons. One-third of those citizens return to Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties.
  • One year after release, 60% of individuals convicted of a crime are not employed, according to the National Institute of Justice, which can lead to additional issues.

  • Most individuals released from prisons are re-arrested within three years, and 70% of children with an incarcerated parent will follow in their parent’s footsteps.

Our Partners

The U.S. Department of Labor provides the funds for CIRCA through a Pathway Home 2 grant opportunity.

Additional local partners include:



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The CIRCA program is 100% funded from the Federal Department of Labor (DOL), Pathway Home 2 grant opportunity. The content of this website does not directly reflect the views of the DOL or any other federal agency.