Project Rio

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Project Rio 2013-08-22T03:32:09+00:00

MRGDC | Workforce Programs | Project RIO

Reintegration of Offenders

Project RIO Logo

From Prison to Jobs

Project RIO is a unique multi-agency initiative that help parolees re-enter society and the workforce. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) administers the program to help ex-offenders help themselves.

Project RIO recognizes that employment is a key factor in reducing recidivism. An ex-offender who secures employment is three times more likely to stay out of jail than one who does not. The state pays $45 per day, per inmate for incarceration. Each new prison cell costs more than $20,000. Studies show RIO helps Texas save more than $16.5 million each year in potential re-incarceration costs.

Project RIO Cares

Project RIO coordinates services of various state agencies and organizations, including the Institutional and Paroles Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and TWC. Inmates learn about the program from supportive RIO professionals who explain benefits of prison education and vocational training programs and encourage their participation.

Opening Doors to Opportunities

Project RIO Contacts:
Pat Almeida
Dimmit County
Eddie Reyna
La Salle County
Victoria Contreras
Zavala County
Oscar Barrera
Val Verde County
Theresa Perez
Maverick County
Ernest Garcia
Uvalde County
Edwards, Real, Kinney Counties
Call Val Verde Contact
Project RIO Works

Since the Houston and Dallas pilot programs opened in 1985, Project RIO has expanded statewide, offering direct placement and support services in more than 90 Texas cities. The program now reaches 100 percent of the targeted ex-offender population. Project RIO has served over 146,000 ex-offenders, and 71 percent of those clients have entered employment. In the next two years, more than 22,000 ex-offenders will secure employment.

The U.S. Department of Labor, the National Governor’s Conference, the Texas Legislature, the National League of Cities and the John F. Kennedy School of Government have recognized this innovative rehabilitative program.

Project RIO Prepares Job Seekers
  • Case Management
  • Job Counseling
  • Job Placement
  • Referrals to educational and training resources

Parole Division staff members refer parolees to their local TWC office (MRGDC Workforce Center) for intake, evaluation, counseling and possible testing. At a Project RIO orientation, parolees learn of community, support, education and training services. TWC immediately sends RIO clients on job interviews or refers them to other services.

Project RIO’s seven full-service sites offer special job search seminars that cover such topics as completing applications, making appointments, writing resumes and interviewing. Facilitators also discuss interview attire, telephone etiquette and labor market information. TWC’s interviewers continue to assist ex-offenders until they find suitable employment.

Project RIO Assists Employers
  • Qualified Applicants to Meet Workforce Demands
  • Support Services to Foster Job Retention
  • Offense Screening to Reduce Risks
  • Applicants with Tax Credit Certification
  • Fidelity Bonding Upon Request

TWC’s RIO staff screens applicants and matches them to appropriate job listings, helping ensure employer satisfaction. Beside providing a valuable workforce, Project RIO gives tax credits up to $2,100 through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program. RIO also provides free employee bonding on request.

RIO Client Eligibility Chart

Eligibility Requirement
How Referred
How Scheduled
On Parole

RIO Indicator-1

Currently on State parole.

If client is currently enrolled in RIO at the time of discharge, client can continue to receive RIO services for a period of one year from discharge date.

Parole Officer

Case Management Staff

Residential Service Provider

Parole Officer

TWC Staff

Scheduled Direct

Flat Time Release

RIO Indicator-1

Client is within 12 months of release date.

If client is currently enrolled in RIO and 12 months from release date passes, client can continue to receive RIO services through the current program year. *See Note Below

Self Referred Scheduled Direct
State Jail Releasee

RIO Indicator-4

Client is within 12 months of release date.

If client is currently enrolled in RIO and 12 months from release date passes, client can continue to receive RIO services through the current program year.

Self Referred Scheduled Direct
Youth Offender

RIO Indicator-2

Client is currently under supervision of TYC or is a former resident of a TYC facility and is aged 16-21. Parole Officer

Case Management Staff

Self Referred

Parole Officer

TWC Staff

Scheduled Direct

On Probation

RIO Indicator-4**

State Jail releasee or released from SAFPF. If client is currently enrolled in RIO at the time probation is discharged, client may continue to receive RIO services for a period of one year from discharge date. CSCD Officer

Case Management Staff

Self Referred

CSCD Officer

Case Managment Staff

Scheduled Direct

* Intake should be provided for parole dischargee’s who have not participated in RIO and are within one year of their parole discharge date. They can receive RIO services through the current program year.

** Except in sites with Employment Services for Probationers (EPS) programs. RIO Indicator-5 is utilized by ESP assigned staff only.

Fidelity Bonding

Project RIO also provides free fidelity bonding services to facilitate success in job placement for at-risk applicants. Job seekers who have in the past committed dishonest acts, or who have demonstrated other past behavior which casts doubt upon credibility or honesty, often experience a barrier to gaining employment. Such persons are routinely classified as “at-risk” job applicants. Project RIO has purchased bonding services for use with RIO eligible offenders who experience this barrier. The McLaughlin Company, agent for Travelers Insurance, has made available a limited number of courtesy bonds, which are available for use with non-RIO clients. These free fidelity bonding services for at-risk job applicants are available to employers to encourage use of the RIO resources.

What is Fidelity Bonding?

  • It is insurance to protect an employer against employee dishonesty
  • It covers any type of petty crime: theft, forgery, larceny and embezzlement
  • It is an incentive to the employer to hire an at-risk applicant
  • It is a unique to for marketing applicants to employers
  • A fidelity bond indemnifies a single, specific employer-employee relationship
  • It is issued at no cost to the employer, with no deductible
  • It is issued for a six-month coverage period. After the initial six months of coverage, if no claim is made against the bond, at-risk applicant is bondable through regular commercial system
  • Courtesy bonds are issued at the $5,000 level for non-RIO at risk applicants
  • Project RIO applicants may be bonded at higher levels of coverage if appropriate
What Fidelity Bonding is Not:
  • Surety Bond or Performance Bond commonly required of contractors and self-employed individuals
  • Insurance for self-employed individuals
Eligibility for Bonding Services:
  • Any at-risk applicant is eligible for fidelity bonding services, including:
    • All RIO Clients
    • Other ex-offenders
    • Recovering substance abusers (alcohol or drugs)
    • Welfare recipients
    • Persons having poor credit
    • Disadvantaged youth who lack a work history
    • Individuals dishonorably discharged from the military
    • Anyone who cannot secure bonding through regular commercial system
Referral Information:

If you are working with an at-risk client who has secured a job opportunity requiring fidelity bonding, please refer them to the most convenient Project RIO representative for service. For assistance in determining the closest Project RIO representative, you may call 800.453.8140. For additional information on Project RIO, visit the Texas Workforce Commission web site.

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