Project Return was founded in 1979 by two visionary Nashville ministers, Bill Barnes and Don Beisswenger, who realized the overwhelming obstacles that people face when leaving prison and returning to the community. 

Project Return, a nonprofit, non-faith-based organization, has grown to an expansive, employment-focused agency with an extensive array of supportive services, assisting hundreds of returning men and women each year.

In keeping with our founders' vision, proximity is fundamental, and all of our work – with our employment partners, our supporters, and the people we serve – is relationship-based. Our work is undergirded by collaboration and inclusion, and amplified by the innovativeness of social entrepreneurship.

Remembering Project Return's Co-Founder Rev. Bill Barnes (1931-2017)


Our mission is to provide services and connect people with resources needed to return successfully to work and community after incarceration.


Our vision is a full and free life after incarceration.


  • Excellence
  • Judgment-Free Opportunity
  • Perseverance
  • Encouragement
  • Passion

We are committed to the worth and potential of the people who walk through our door, and we go to the ends of the earth to assure their successful new beginnings. They've taken a major first step in coming to us, and we key our efforts to their motivation, fueling that drive and momentum, and propelling them forward. We operate with the mindset of "the fierce urgency of now", the understanding that lives are in the balance and there’s no time to waste. Getting to work, and working hard and well, is the avenue to success. Everything – every return, every job, every new beginning – is an opportunity.