DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – In less than two weeks, 129 formerly incarcerated individuals in Durham will be chosen to participate in the city’s guaranteed basic income pilot program. 

The program, known as Excel, will start giving $500 a month to formerly incarcerated individuals in March.  

To qualify, the participants must be 18 years old, live in Durham County, and be within five years of incarceration. 

StepUp Durham is the nonprofit organization managing the program. 

The application period ended on Sunday, and StepUp Durham executive director Syretta Hill said the program received more than 300 applications for the program. the program has received 340 responses.

Hill said over the next week and a half, 129 individuals will be randomly selected by the Center for Guaranteed Income in Pennsylvania. She said it’s not easy for individuals who are just getting out of prison to find work and housing. 

“There’s a lot of penalties that this community continues to face, even after they come out of incarceration,” Hill said. 

Hill said $500 a month will go a long way in helping someone get back on their feet. 

“This funding can help them with housing, it can help them with food, and with their other responsibilities,” Hill said. 

The program is being funded by grants from private donors, including Twitter. 

Hill said that making sure these individuals have the money for food and housing while they are looking for a job and trying to get ahead is one way to help keep them on the ride path and work to keep crime down. 

“We have to figure out a way to stop penalizing people for mistakes that they’ve made and broken systems that they’ve been caught up in,” Hill said. “We have to have them really think about if we don’t have everyone in our community thriving, the impact that has on our entire community.” 

The individuals selected for the program will start receiving their monthly payments in March and the program will last for a year. 

In addition to 129 individuals being selected to receive the $500 a month, 138 individuals will also be selected to be “partners” of the program and receive $30 for completing the Excel survey. 

For more information on the Excel program, go to StepUp Durham’s website.