MSW CERTIFICATE PROGRAMSGoldring Reentry Initiative


The Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI) aims to address the epidemic of mass incarceration and empower returning citizens in their transition back into society. Through equipping Master of Social Work students with the knowledge and skills to make meaningful contributions in the criminal justice field, the GRI uniquely advocates for incarcerated individuals and addresses barriers to successful reentry.

About the Program

The Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI), a program within the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), is a field placement option for Master of Social Work (MSW) students. MSW students, referred to as GRI Caseworkers, work one-on-one with individuals transitioning out of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) both pre- and post-release to provide therapeutic case management support. 

The continuum of care model within which the GRI operates is designed to bridge the service gap between jail and the community in order to support clients in their transition back into society. GRI Caseworkers meet with a caseload of clients weekly for approximately the last three months of a client’s incarceration and their first three months in the community. 

While clients are incarcerated, GRI Caseworkers work with clients to develop individualized reentry plans, focusing on client strengths, goals, and needs to successfully transition into the community. Reentry plans address housing, employment, education, mental and physical health, substance use, family reunification, obtaining identification documents, coordination of benefits, and any other goals or obstacles that arise. Once released, GRI Caseworkers and their clients continue to meet each week in the community to work to implement the goals of the reentry plan. At the end of April, the GRI has a large client graduation to celebrate client successes. 

Prospective Students

MSW students in the GRI work one-on-one with a caseload of clients throughout their reentry process from incarceration into the community. GRI Caseworkers are expected to meet individually with each client assigned to their caseload for an hour every week from September through the end of April both within the PDP, and in the community once clients have been released from incarceration. 

As GRI Caseworkers, clinical and macro MSW students gain knowledge and skills through a variety of activities, including:

  • Individual therapeutic and case management-focused sessions with men and women who are currently and were previously incarcerated;
  • Weekly group seminar;
  • Hour-long weekly individual and group supervision;
  • Resource sharing with peers;
  • Interdisciplinary coordination with community providers; and
  • Opportunities to research and discuss intersections of mass incarceration.

How to apply

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for MSW students, with preference given to 2nd year MSW students who meet a set deadline for admission. This is a competitive field placement so early applications are encouraged.

Please note:

  • Part-time students will only be considered if they can commit to 16 hours between Monday-Friday, 9-5, including every Monday from 9am-12pm.
  • First year MSW students will only be considered if they have relevant work and/or volunteer experience in the social services field. Prior experience does not have to be in the criminal justice or reentry fields.

Contact Us

Mary Archer, MSW

Program Director, Goldring Reentry Initiative 

215 573 7942 

Catherine Weigley, MSS, LCSW 

Clinical Director, Goldring Reentry Initiative 

215 898 2505 

Ram Cnaan, MSW, PhD 

Faculty Director, Goldring Reentry Initiative 

215 898 5523