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Department of Human and Community Renewal

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The Department of Human and Community Renewal (DHCR) was established in 1989 to serve the disadvantaged adult populations of Metropolitan Chicago, primarily ex-offenders returning to the Cook County area. Our primary focus is to reduce the prison population while decreasing crime in our community. We work to interrupt the cycle of crime by improving the quality of life of former offenders through program activities designed to provide support and individualized attention during the critical reentry process.

Ongoing services offered by our program include

  • Providing reentry services to individuals released from IDOC facilities who are returning to Cook County and collar counties.
  • Referring clients needing emergency and support services to partnering community-based service providers.
  • Conducting our three-week long Personal & Career Development class, followed by ongoing mentoring and access to our computer lab while searching for employment.
  • Offering a variety of activities related to job search and employment such as job club, career & resource fairs, and mock interviewing.
  • Providing clients with job leads from a continually updated list of employers with transportation assistance to the interviews and workplace.
About Us

Our History

Housed within the Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies at Roosevelt University, the Department of Human and Community Renewal (DHCR) is charged with a mission to create opportunities, restore hope, and renew the human spirit. This makes the DHCR a logical extension of Roosevelt University’s commitment to social justice through academic program development and civic engagement.

The DHCR originally offered the Bachelor of General Studies degree in prisons throughout the state of Illinois. This program resulted in more than 500 Roosevelt University graduates between 1990 and 2002, when the program was closed due to loss of funding.

Since 1995, the DHCR has operated the Life Skills Reentry Program, providing case management, job readiness training and referrals for reentry services and continuing education. Since its inception, the Life Skills Reentry Program has served over 18,000 clients. In recent years we have begun to focus more on individualized attention for clients and have seen an encouraging increase in the percent of clients employed after completing the program.

Staff Members

Margaret Haak

David Disabato 
Marketing & Recruitment

Elizabeth Price
Program Coordinator

Felicia Elliot
PCD Instructor

Douglas Johnson 
Workforce Development Specialist


Life Skills Reentry Program

The Life Skills Reentry Program includes a three-week Personal and Career Development Class, Individualized attention from our Workforce Development Staff to assist in Job placement, ongoing referral services, and various workshops.

Personal and Career Development Class

Our Personal and Career Development Class is a three-week class, meeting for twelve half-day sessions, that focuses on personal development, job readiness, and job search skills. The class includes setting and achieving goals, understanding what employers are looking for, tailoring job searches on the internet, and much more. Each client receives individualized attention, direction and on-going support. The first day of class is basic orientation where clients complete intake forms and needs assessments.

In subsequent class sessions, clients learn skills that will not only assist them in the job interview process, but also to obtain job placement. Topics included are:

  • Computer Literacy – Working with all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, we coach clients on improving computer skills needed for today’s job market such as basic typing, understanding the internet, understanding the online application process, building online profiles, etc.

  • Parole Issues – Discussion on the rules and restrictions of parole as mandated by the Department of Corrections and the Prisoner Review Board, as well as information on how to earn good time, how to contact parole agents, etc.

  • Legal Issues – Overview of basic legal rights and expectations for a returning citizen, including topics such as conditions of mandatory supervised release (MSR), executive clemency, family law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and more.

  • Consumer Literacy – Discussions on financial literacy encompassing the knowledge and skills necessary for personal financial planning, budgeting and investing, credit management, and more. Additional topics include student loan repayment, subsidized health care, credit card accountability and awareness of scams.

  • Job Interviewing Skills – Clients learn how to navigate questions about their backgrounds with a focus on positivity and growth. Through group and individual exercises, with direct instructor feedback, the client will gain the necessary interviewing skills for today’s job market.

  • Mock Interviews – Clients participate in mock interview sessions where they practice and apply their newly acquired skills. Over multiple class sessions clients receive positive critiques and adjustment advice from our employment specialist to help them become more relaxed and prepared for future interview opportunities.

After completion of the class clients are then able to meet with the Workforce Development staff who assist clients with additional job searches, job leads and supply interview referrals. Clients can also utilize the Program’s computer lab, which has 24 workstations, to search and apply for job opportunities.

Every client receives a free flash drive for storing personal documents including resumes, cover letters and references. Any client in need of transportation assistance can also request CTA fare cards to attend our class, to travel to job interviews, or for up to two weeks travel to and from any newly acquired job.

Get more information or sign up for the next class by calling 312.281.3371 Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm

Reflections & Success Stories

The DHCR is always pleased to hear from past and current clients. Below are just a few examples of positive reflections and success our clients have achieved.

Lavell S. - Class Participant 2014 - Hired January 2015

As a result of Roosevelt's Reentry Program I have completed three certificate programs and have been hired. I am a true testimony to this programs ability to help through their resources and team spirit. I believe that the program at Roosevelt does work if an individual wants it to work. I credit the DHCR with my success in getting me in touch with the right programs and people to make this happen. Now I’m networking and making more opportunities happen.

Lorraine O. - Class Participant 2012

I would like to start by congratulating you on the successful teaching of Personal/Career Development. You allowed me to be free in expressing my fears and doubts about reentering back into society. This was the main reason I began the class, but you taught me so much more. To my surprise you encouraged me to grow within and out of myself, develop knowledge and skills to better myself and find confidence in myself. This class has added inspiration to my success. Thank you for allowing me to expand my positive expectations of a journey that I know I will achieve!

Martez J. - Class Participant 2014 - Hired November 2014 (pictured to the left)

Always strive hard. No one can do more for you than you can. The program is wonderful and a great help for resources, but don’t let them do all the work. Continue to look and search for jobs and once you find that job work hard. Don’t be afraid to continue to search and improve yourself. Education is the key.

Jamie W. - Class Participant 2011

Coming out being an ex-offender was difficult. I felt like there was no hope for me in this world. I came out wanting a fresh start, wanting to think differently than in the past. Attending the Department of Human and Community Renewal program has changed my whole frame of mind towards life and I have gained a lot in this program. Now I have managed to gain employment, housing, and FAFSA assistance for my upcoming semester at Roosevelt University. I now have the confidence within myself to walk with my head held high and I won't give up. I really appreciate you showing me how to positively move forward in my life!

LaTanya S. - Class Participant 2015 - Hired at two different employers March 2015

Believe in yourself because the program believes in you. This program is unlike any other. -

Pedro G. - Class Participant 2009

I am grateful for this class. It had a lot of helpful information on the current job market. I was able to meet a great group of people who I will continue to work. With the help of my instructor, I was able to obtain employment during my second week of the class. First, I would like to thank Dave for all his hard work and patience with me. Also, I would like to extend a special thanks to the staff of The Department of Human & Community Renewal Life who made this possible. I hope that you continue having great success helping other ex-offenders. 

Duane D. - Class Participant 2013 - Hired December 2013 - Enrolled at Harold Washington College pursuing an Associates Degree in Business Management and Administration (pictured to the left)

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Quote by Thomas A. Edison

To see ongoing success stories and class graduation photos, please visit our Facebook page where each Friday we highlight a client and their current successes.

If you are a previous client and wish to share your story of success, please email


Continuing Education

If you are interested in continuing your formal education or attending a vocational program: please contact Dave Disabato at 312.281.3375

To learn more about Adult Education options offered at Roosevelt University: Roosevelt University's Flex Track Program for Adults

Additional Service Organizations

How to Obtain Social Security Card, ID, and Transcripts

Social Security Card - Obtaining or Replacing your Social Security Card is free of charge just follow the link below which will provide you with further information on what documents are needed, the official application form, and help find your local Social Security Office to submit the documents to:

ID - To receive an Illinois State ID card you must have already obtained your social security card. The standard fee for an ID is $20. More information on which documents will be needed, a list of nearby facilities, and applications for Disability Identification Card and Homeless Status Certification can be found at:

If you need assistance with the $20 fee, call our program and we can refer you to various organizations that supply vouchers for those that qualify: 312.281.3370.

Transcripts - 

CPS High School Transcripts - The first request is free, each request after has a $4 processing charge. Fill out the application located in the link below and mail or fax to the facility listed on the application:

GED or College Credits - Contact the attended college directly. Each college has a different request process. If GED/credits were received while incarcerated the typical fee should be waived. Upon filing out the application if the fee is not removed automatically, call the college to ensure the charge is removed.

Contact Us

For New/Existing Clients

Contact the main line 312.281.3370 for further assistance or to sign up for the program.

Like and Follow us on Facebook for continual updates, quotes of the day, and topics of the week all supplied by DHCR staff!

For Employers

Contact Douglas Johnson at 312.281.3372 or email

For Partnering Organizations

Contact David Disabato at 312.281.3375 or email