Do Something

For justice-impacted women

Applications for The Guild’s women’s reentry program pilot are currently open, and aspirants can apply directly through their website.


Philadelphia Reentry Programs

September is Reentry Month!

The Philadelphia Reentry Coalition is a joint effort between 115 local, state, and federal government agencies, community-based service providers, researchers, advocates, returning citizens, faith-based groups, and others to increase collaboration, reduce duplication, and strengthen reentry programs. Get to know the organizations taking part and Read up on their current strategic plan.

Get Involved

Our toolkit for better citizenship

One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia—whether you want to contact your City Councilmember to voice your concerns about our justice system, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

Stand up for marginalized communities

Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

Support local businesses

Setting Returning Women Up for Success

A one-year-old Mural Arts’ program works to reduce recidivism for Philly women by looking inward to succeed on the outside

Setting Returning Women Up for Success

A one-year-old Mural Arts’ program works to reduce recidivism for Philly women by looking inward to succeed on the outside

“You can imagine prison, but you can’t really understand it and truly empathize with it until you’ve experienced it,” says Rasheeda Bagwell, of the Women’s Reentry Program.

The Women’s Reentry Program is an initiative of the Mural Arts Philadelphia, whose over 4,000 citywide public murals represent both hundreds of artists, but also dozens of diverse, community-centered projects and programs. The Program is a relatively new offshoot of The Guild, Mural Arts’ paid apprenticeship and job training program that supports recently incarcerated people. Women’s Reentry is different because it also offers parenting workshops, and training in everything from job skills to personal finance to mindfulness.

Mural Arts founded The Guild in 2009 to help returning citizens overcome some of the barriers to success they face on the outside. These extreme challenges include finding employment and housing, rebuilding self-worth … and not falling back into the criminal justice system. An average of 100 returning citizens take part in The Guild each year. Its workshops, all based at 915 Spring Garden Street, run weekdays from 1 to 5pm for four months.

The program has been successful — so successful, there’s a waitlist. Since its founding, The Guild has maintained a recidivism rate below 15 percent — more than 40 percent lower than the national average. Within one year of graduating, 85 percent of graduated participants are employed or enrolled in education or vocational training. While enrolled, Guild participants earn $14.25 per hour for 20 hours per week.

The Guild established the Women’s Reentry Program in September 2021 serve the unique needs of Philadelphia’s portion of the 1.9 million women released from federal and state prisons and jails annually. Studies show that women in the criminal justice system are more likely than men to have suffered trauma before and during incarceration.

Bagwell joined The Guild on August 18, 2021, a few weeks before the Women’s Reentry Program began. As a mother, daughter and someone with experience within the justice system who describes herself as “just a girl from North Philly who wanted more,” she feels a special connection to the program’s participants.

“A lot of people that come here are done with life. We try to make sure they know they have some place to go that’s not jail all over again,” says Bagwell.

One of her mentees is December Collins, age 30. Collins’ story demonstrates the precariousness of life in a city where one out of 102 residents are likely to commit a crime, according to Neighborhood Scout.

“Everything was okay growing up, I was very family-oriented,” she says. “I was on the right path. You know, bachelor’s degree [in] general science. But then my mom left the face of the earth three days before I graduated. After that, my life went from being high up to rock bottom. I started dealing with very manipulating men, and it cost me a lot.”

The Guild provides safe spaces to discuss the sort of personal and interpersonal struggles that have led participants like Collins to wind up in the justice system. “Sometimes we have people come in to talk about healthy relationships, or [even] sex education,” Bagwell says.

Participants help paint murals around the city and partake in activities such as yoga, creative writing, and, Collins says, “mindfulness meditation, opening up our third eye and stuff like that. I really got into yoga since [being] in this program. It’s real relaxing.”

Women’s Guild graduation at City Hall, May 26, 2022. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Participants also learn about personal finance, which allows them to access loans and open bank accounts. Many aspire to start small businesses. There are parenting workshops and technical skill workshops that offer instruction on how to build, repair and work on computers, software and phones. (One super useful course: fixing phone screens.)

But it’s not all professional, financial and emotional work. Participants are also invited to take part in fun photo shoots. “Some of them haven’t had professional pictures taken since their mugshot. It gives them a chance to do their hair or make-up, and improves their self-image,” says Bagwell. One-offs like photo shoots give these women, literally, a new picture of themselves, to make them feel like the truly unique and beautiful individuals they are.

Broke in Philly logo

Guild alumni can continue their affiliation with Mural Arts by joining the Rec Crew, which revitalizes recreational centers, and gives old, worn-down buildings a new sense of purpose.

Collins believes The Guild’s environment has allowed her to enter a new, more hopeful chapter of her life. Not only has its programming taught her new coping mechanisms; it’s also helped her unearth a new passion and identity. “I like to write. I’m a writer,” Collins says.

“A lot of people that come here are done with life. We try to make sure they know they have some place to go that’s not jail all over again,” says Bagwell.


The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil comments. If your post is offensive, not only will we not publish it, we'll laugh at you while hitting delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story

Advertising Terms

We do not accept political ads, issue advocacy ads, ads containing expletives, ads featuring photos of children without documented right of use, ads paid for by PACs, and other content deemed to be partisan or misaligned with our mission. The Philadelphia Citizen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and all affiliate content will be nonpartisan in nature. Advertisements are approved fully at The Citizen's discretion. Advertisements and sponsorships have different tax-deductible eligibility. For questions or clarification on these conditions, please contact Director of Sales & Philanthropy Kristin Long at [email protected] or call (609)-602-0145.