Month: May 2014

We Need A Sponsor To Forge Our Second Chance

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We want nothing to do with fame or fortune, we just want to help our-self while helping others.  This video is how linking together to make your difference make a difference. Animals are just as important as human beings.

 

We are pleased to share with you this monograph, aimed to stimulate interest, ignite conversation and spur momentum for a national initiative promoting entrepreneurship as a reentry strategy. The rising number of individuals returning to our communities from prison and jail represents one of the defining issues of our time.
Individuals reentering society face myriad challenges, not the least of which is securing viable employment; in addition, each individual has a unique set of experiences, needs and resources. This project stems from the understanding that to effectively address the unique characteristics of and challenges facing people reentering society, the best and brightest minds from a diverse array of fields must collaborate to develop a spectrum of approaches and solutions.

To this end, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation granted support to the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to convene a series of Conversations between experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, criminal justice and workforce development, including academics, practitioners, funders, policymakers and formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs. During these Conversations – held in New York, NY and San Diego, CA in Fall 2006 – participants identified challenges and opportunities, grappled with complex questions regarding program design and sustainability and produced innovative ideas for a national initiative promoting self-employment among formerly incarcerated individuals. The discussions were rich and productive, and the ideas they generated serve as the conceptual framework for this monograph.

The monograph is designed to develop a vocabulary with which criminal justice and micro enterprise representatives can effectively communicate, to address skepticism about the viability of entrepreneurship for this population and to equip both fields with the knowledge and tools to develop and sustain projects without reinventing the wheel. It begins with a background containing key information, terminology and statistics on the criminal justice system, entrepreneurship and micro enterprise development. It then introduces five opportunities for facilitating successful reentry with entrepreneurship. These opportunities are infused with relevant research, case studies and examples, as well as profiles of thriving businesses founded by formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs. Finally, it provides a set of practical tools for the development of pilot projects and initiatives:
resources for leveraging funding streams; contact points for state and local agencies that must be at the table to launch and sustain an effective project; and ideas for innovative program design provided through profiles of programs currently customizing business development services for people with criminal records.

Promoting self-employment among people coming home from prison will be challenging; it will require creativity, perseverance and the ability of professionals across fields to break down cultural barriers to build productive relationships. However, the inspiring stories and examples shared in this monograph demonstrate the potential that an initiative represents for individuals returning home from prison, their families and our communities. We hope the information, strategies and tools contained within will serve as a catalyst for the conversations that must occur to truly take advantage of this potential.

The phrase “mass incarceration” is now widely used to describe the current state of criminal justice in the United States. Over the past generation, this country’s rate of incarceration has more than quadrupled, rising every year since 1972, now exceeding 735 per 100,000 people (Harrison and Beck 2006). This growth has earned the U.S. the dubious distinction of incarcerating more people per capita than any other country in the world (Walmsley 2005).

Not surprisingly, the number of people reentering the community from prison has soared. Nearly everyone who goes to prison or jail eventually comes home. A high concentration of formerly incarcerated persons (FIPs) return to impoverished communities ill-equipped to provide the resources and services they and their families may need to smoothly transition into society. Among FIPs’ most important short- and long-term needs is securing a job. But legal and practical barriers often prevent FIPs from accessing employment to earn a living wage and move out of or avoid poverty.

As the nation struggles to address the social and economic consequences of mass incarceration, entrepreneurship has emerged as a viable alternative to traditional employment opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized individuals all over the world. The micro enterprise development field, in particular, has demonstrated success assisting the hard-to-employ (e.g. welfare recipients, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees) transcend poverty through business start-up and development. As more and more people return from prison, many lacking educational and vocational skills necessary to compete in today’s labor market, entrepreneurship may represent a means of capitalizing on an underutilized pool of human resources.
While self-employment may not be a viable option for many individuals leaving prison, exposure to entrepreneurship training can play an important role in fostering successful reentry. A small percentage may have the resources and mindset to use entrepreneurship as the key to their successful reintegration, either as their sole form of employment, or in addition to a traditional job. Others will open a business once they have achieved reentry stability through other forms of employment. For many, because entrepreneurial thinking is infused with the philosophy of empowerment, exposure to entrepreneurial training will reshape their perspective on their role in society. These individuals may never become entrepreneurs themselves, but will use their entrepreneurship training to improve their performance as employees and to proactively engage with their families and communities.

Consequently, even if only a tiny fraction of the vast number of people returning home from prison pursued self employment,
it could make a significant impact. If between one and seven percent of people leaving state or federal prison next year started their own businesses (i.e., the percentage of welfare-to-work participants who start businesses in addition to or instead of securing traditional employment), 6,500 to 45,000 new businesses would be created in the United States.

Nationwide, many FIPs currently operate thriving businesses, and many micro enterprise professionals work with currently and formerly incarcerated individuals to develop and grow their businesses. At the same time,representatives from the field of criminal justice are hungry for fresh approaches to prisoner reentry, and the nation’s attention is focused on questioning the last several decades of mass incarceration and effectively addressing the challenges posed by prisoners returning home. Now is an opportune moment to take advantage of several opportunities that might emerge from collaboration between the fields of entrepreneurship and reentry:

• Cultivate: Foster individual and community empowerment through self-employment.
• Collaborate: Build relationships among and leverage the expertise, resources and structure of
micro enterprise programs, reentry programs, correctional agencies and other partners.
• Educate: Create synergy between the micro enterprise and criminal justice fields by debunking myths and
developing a common vocabulary.
• Innovate: Think creatively about modifying existing services and structures to address reentry challenges
and support a spectrum of successful outcomes.
• Initiate, Evaluate, Disseminate and Advocate: Institutionalize an infrastructure to support and sustain a
national initiative on entrepreneurship and reentry over an extended period of time.
The information, case studies and stories contained in this monograph aim to inspire professionals across entrepreneurship, workforce development and criminal justice fields to recognize and embrace entrepreneurship and self-employment as appropriate and valuable tools for reintegration. Given the size of the population returning home from prison and jail, we cannot afford to ignore their potential as resources for community and economic development; nor can we overlook the opportunity that entrepreneurship represents as a path to financial stability and engaged citizenship.

Entrepreneurship is broadly applied to describe a variety of undertakings,ranging from innovative, high-growth ventures to much simpler forms of self-employment. Some definitions place strong emphasis on innovation,others on wealth creation. However, the term is also used to simply describe a method of generating income in lieu of or in addition to traditional employment.

Research shows that adversity plays a major role in spurring enterprise building. Thus, the poor, the under-educated, minorities and immigrants are often at the forefront of entrepreneurial activity around the world. Studies of the informal (i.e., licit but unregulated) economy found that small enterprises have a “strong and natural presence,” pointing to higher entrepreneurial
tendencies among those facing barriers to the traditional labor market (Thetford and Edgcomb 2004).

Individual motivations for pursuing entrepreneurial ventures are as varied as the life circumstances of those who choose this career path. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) states that at the initial stage, self-employment can provide additional income to supplement a low paying job. For those who lack the educational or language skills required for a professional position, starting a business is preferable to minimum wage employment. Self-employment further offers the opportunity to use
talents and find fulfillment in ways rarely possible in traditional employment.

Meanwhile, many women choose self-employment for the flexibility they need to balance family and work responsibilities. People with disabilities are attracted by the opportunity to work from home. For most individuals,the prospect of being their own manager is the most appealing aspect of entrepreneurship.

There appears to be some consensus that successful entrepreneurs share certain personality traits, including readiness to take risks, non-conformity, need for autonomy and creativity. The barriers most frequently cited to successful entrepreneurship include lack of assets and capital, social networks, business skills and prior self-employment experience (AEO 2005).

This is the reason we want to open Second Chance Alliance, Please support or sponsor our vision. Click the insignia GofundMe to view.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

 

I belief In Change-How About You?

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Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.

Gail Devers

Many times we’re faced with situations that can cause us to consider compromising our values.  Maybe you have been offered a job with a company you don’t respect…but you really need the job.  Maybe your beliefs are in the minority…but you don’t want to become an outcast as a result.  Or, maybe you disagree with your boss’s business practices…but are too shy or too afraid to rock the boat to stand-up for what you really think or believe. When confronted with these situations, it is sometimes difficult to stick to your guns or stand your ground.

Unfortunately, the more we compromise our values, the more of a negative impact it has on our mental wellbeing. And, the more we compromise our values, the more we continue to do so. You could say it becomes an insidious cycle. On the other hand, when we stand up for what we believe in, the benefits can have a tremendously positive impact:

  1. It Builds Self-Confidence: When others dictate what we should think, feel and do, it eats away at our self-confidence. We begin to distrust our own instincts and lose the ability to decipher what we really believe versus what everyone wants us to believe. Although it may be difficult at first, the more we stand-up for ourselves, the more we build our self-confidence. It takes guts to express an unpopular viewpoint…it takes guts to say no when it is so much easier to say yes…and it takes guts to risk losing a job, friends or opportunities because someone won’t like our opinion. However, the more you tap into your “guts,” the easier it gets, and the more confident you’ll become.
  2. It Helps you Develop a Strong Sense of Self: If we bow to others and their opinions, and do things their way, whether right or not, we start to lose our own identity and start to forget for what we truly stand. Further, the less you allow yourself to think freely and develop your own belief system, the more you become a follower without your own direction. On the other hand, the more authentic you are to your needs and viewpoints, the more you will understand your sense of self.
  3. It Develops Self-Respect: Would you respect someone who went against their own values because it was convenient or because it was more popular? Probably not. And, with good reason.  Wishy washiness is far from admirable, or for that matter, respectable.  Yet, if you encounter someone with a less popular opinion who stands their ground (assuming the opinion or belief is founded in ethical principles), you would most likely have great respect for them.  Same goes for the way you perceive yourself. The more you stand up for your beliefs, the more self-respect you will develop. If you continually give in to what others want and compromise your own values in the process, you are going to lose respect for yourself.
  4. It Builds Integrity: In a time when so many individuals are dishonest, do things to better themselves at the expense of others, expose their personal lives for a chance to be famous and do what feels good in the moment without thinking about the consequences, integrity is a characteristic that is especially unique.  Doing the right thing or standing up for your beliefs may not be easy, but when you do, you know that you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror and feel good about yourself. You’ll know that you did the right thingand that you had integrity.
  5. It Helps You be Independent: As much as we like to believe that a hero or heroine will swoop-in to defend our honor, it is extremely rare. There are two things to consider here: First, if YOU don’t stand up for yourself or your beliefs, then how can you expect others to? And second, the person who you should ALWAYS be able to count on to stand up for you – no matter what – is you. What this means is that the more you stand-up for your beliefs, the less you will rely on others to validate them. You’ll reinforce your independence and ability to stand on your own two feet without anyone else to support you.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t make mistakes or give into what was easier once in awhile, but learning from those mistakes and standing for what we believe in the vast majority of time is what is most important.

Do you believe in yourself?  How has it helped you to reach your goals and be successful?

If you believe in change and a second chance for ex-offenders click the insignia and see if it is something you feel would change lives.

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We Have A Heart Full Of Dreams and A Mind With A Huge Vision

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False thinking and false ideologies, dressed in the most pleasing forms, quietly – almost without our knowing it – seek to reduce our moral defenses and to captivate our minds. They entice with bright promises of security, cradle-to-grave guarantees of many kinds.

Ezra Taft Benson

I have been impregnated with this vision to be apart of the struggle to reduce recidivism. Trying to gain leverage from the various circles of churches and people has been another area of agreement I have yet to convince them is of the greatest importance. While there is the reality of thinking that suggest this isn’t my problem and I am not interested in aiding anyone that made bad choices that propelled them to become a endangered species.

An exploding prison population is a concern not only for the criminal justice system, but, also for the communities where ex-offenders live after their release. Branded with the stigma of incarceration, ex-offenders struggle to find housing jobs and acceptance. Half of the ex-offenders released from prison in California are located in the harshest areas of depravity in every area of California .

At least 30,000 or more children have previously experienced or are currently living through often debilitating emotional, economic, and social consequences stemming from the arrest, detention and/or imprisonment of a parent. Second Chance Alliance (May & Aaron partners) seeks to mitigate these negative effects by assisting individuals and families whose lives are roiled by incarceration. We will advocate on their behalf, promoting innovative programs that demonstrate that over-reliance on imprisonment is a costly and counterproductive approach that fails to recognize or support the basic capacity of people to transform their lives.

May And Aaron( Second Chance Alliance) is promoting independent living for ex-offenders. It means taking risks and being allowed to succeed and fail on your own terms. It means participating in community life and pursuing activities of your own choosing. Independent living is knowing what choices are available, selecting what is right for you, and taking responsibility for your own actions. These best practices are what we used to overcome our position in life as disenfranchised educated individuals.

For people with disabilities affecting their ability to make complicated decisions or pursue complex activities, independent living means being as self-sufficient as possible. It means being able to exercise the greatest degree of choice in where you live, with whom you live, how to live, where you work, with whom you work and how to use your time.

For many years ex-offender strategies have been based largely on theoretical or ideological assumptions about “what works,” in the absence of objective, scientific evidence. Indeed, so many ill-conceived strategies were so often found to be ineffective, that many ex-offender prevention critics popularized the cynical view that “nothing works,” such a pessimistic view is no longer tenable. We are proof that these principles and core values work.

The mission of the Second Chance Alliance program is to serve the welfare of young adults and adults and their families within a sound frame work of public safety. Second Chance Alliance and its partners that we are still praying for are committed to providing the guidance, structure and services needed by every ex-offender under our supervision.

Through the partnership of the  Courts of California and the District’s  Police, we hope to:

1. Identify the needs of offenders regarding education, employment, parenting, job training and social skills:

2. Link offenders with caring and supportive adults capable of meeting those needs:

3. Offer the courts additional sanctions to deal more effectively with the issues of drugs and violence.

4. Teach offenders about the life-long consequences of violent and dangerous actions, instill a sense of empathy between offenders and those who have suffered the effects of violence.

5. Demonstrate the need for alternatives to violent or criminal behaviors, provide support and recognition to victims and their families and educate the community on the debilitating effects of violence.

Second Chance Alliance is going to be a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, founded in 2013 and hope to be incorporated in 2014. Our mission is to aid the development of the holistic person by providing supportive services designed to enhance the physical, mental, spiritual, nutritional, social and educational well-being of families. The services provided will improve the quality of life in the community and promote healthier and happier individuals.

I thank you in advance for reviewing our request/supporting literature and anxiously look forward to establishing an ongoing collaboration with you. None of this will come to pass without you the partners we are praying will see the attractiveness of such a company.

LAND OF SECOND CHANCES?
Roughly one in five people in America have a criminal history.’ Over seven million people are under the active supervision of the criminal justice system.  Every year 650,000 people, enough to populate the City of Los Angelas, come out of jail or prison to face the challenge of re-entering society in a healthy, meaningful and productive capacity.There has been a five-fold increase in the number of incarcerated individuals over the last thirty years. Two parallel trends, beginning in the 1970s and continuing today, account for this increase. First, rehabilitation as a penological goal was “publicly and politically discredited.  Second, a stronger commitment to incarceration led to the rapid construction of new prisons and a move from indeterminate to determinate sentencing.’  Incarceration has grown from a penological tool applied only to “the most violent and incorrigible offenders” to one routinely affecting many persons.” Incarceration and other contact with the criminal justice system is no longer abnormal. Though it has become much more common, having a criminal history continues to mark individuals for treatment as second-class social, political and economic citizens. Collateral civil consequences of conviction, generated by structural inequality, social stigma, criminal and civil penalties, and improved information technology, combine to create ex-offenders’ second-class citizenship.

While serving time is not necessary to place individuals into the ex-offender class, the incarceration experience itself can profoundly dis-empower inmates beyond their actual sentence and warrants elaboration. To begin, many inmates enter correctional facilities with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems that often go untreated during incarceration.
The conditions of incarceration-inmate violence, sexual predation, correctional discipline and abuse, and enforced solitude in higher security facilities  or during administrative detention-can further degrade inmates’ mental health.

Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and tuberculosis also thrive in correctional facilities, infecting inmates at rates far higher
than the general population, and limiting ex-offenders’ ability to transition into society upon release. In addition to their damaging mental and physical health effects, penal facilities grossly fail to prepare inmates for re-entering society as stable
and productive citizens. Upon release, it is not unusual for a formerly incarcerated person to possess nothing more than a bus ticket and $125.8 The counties to which corrections departments assign inmates for parole are often host to impoverished communities offering little opportunity for gainful employment.

These conditions would be ones to which even the well-educated and well-connected would have difficulty adapting. Affluent college graduates would face awkward questions about unexplained gaps in their resumes. Time away from work would also force affluent college graduates to lose a step or two due to atrophied job skills and industry developments.
Ex-offenders, however, are rarely affluent college graduates. The latest comprehensive survey of state inmates, conducted in 1991, revealed that 65% of state prison inmates had not completed high school, and 53% earned less than $10,000 during the year prior to incarceration.” According to a study of California inmates, 50% are functionally illiterate and prior to incarceration 25% were unemployed. Furthermore, the prison vocational training programs that might give inmates a decent chance at securing
lawful employment have been cut back severely as more and more correctional resources have been diverted to expansion and construction of new jails and prisons.

Second Chance Alliance Development Corporation is going to be a not-for-profit organization that accepts donations which are tax-deductible. Contact us today and help us develop our community and educate our citizens. We will forever be grateful and you will be able to say you changed the world for the better. Are you mean because you have money? Am I mean because I need your help? The Ted talks video revealed some interesting concepts. Click the GofundMe insignia to view our vision of Second Chance Alliance development Corporation.

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By means of beauty all beautiful things become beautiful

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Remember, no human condition is ever permanent. Then you will not be overjoyed in good fortune nor too scornful in misfortune.

Socrates

If one hundred people thought about the good this cause is meant to perform and gave $ 10.00 we would at least be able to get all the paperwork done like 501C3 and C5 done and file for grants to pursue all the other needs to get this program in place for those who need it. We want to thank those that contributed in a huge way already, but our time is ticking. Please click the insignia to view our cause.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

Helping the less fortunate in your community by giving them opportunities to provide for themselves is a form of philanthropy, the Greek word for love of mankind. Choose a service you want to offer to those in need. Food services help the needy enjoy a meal while a homeless shelter provides them with a place to rest while in transition. Sell used clothes and household items at a fraction of the cost of new ones. Opening a business that helps the less fortunate may not bring in much profit, but it may inspire other acts of philanthropy.

We are all born receptive to love, kindness and hope. As we grow up, we encounter the less hopeful, more challenging aspects of being human, including discovering that the things humans do at times can be hateful, calculating and unkind. Although this can turn us cynical or leave us feeling helpless, human beings are just as capable of the most incredible, amazing and wonderful kindness and love. And beyond the heroic and fearless acts that occasionally hit the headlines, it is really the everyday, often overlooked actions of deep kindness and caring that restore our faith in humanity––everyday kindnesses like caring words, a reassuring hug, a helping hand-up in times of trouble and the unquestioning acceptance of our worth by a complete stranger. If you’re feeling a little jaded about where humanity is headed, here are some active ways to restore your faith.

Restore Your Faith in Humanity Step 1 Version 2.jpg

Spend time helping people less fortunate than you. A reality check can come in the form of looking at people who are experiencing things 10 times or 100 times worse than you are and yet manage to meet each day with passion and positivity, believing that being alive is its own reward. Rather than simply reading about such people, get involved through volunteering so that you can see face-to-face the hardships experienced by others. For example, you might consider volunteering at a hospice, a hospital for children with terminal diseases or in a disaster relief community where people have lost homes and livelihoods. However bad things may seem for you, seeing the pluck and determination of those undergoing severe hardships can help you to realize that human beings really are amazing, resilient and deeply profound. It can also help you to balance your own woes and keep them in perspective.

 

Ask people to tell you about the happiest moments in their life. How often do you ask people to recall the happy memories and what makes them happy now? People love talking about what they care about, what motivates them and what makes them happy and yet, it’s not always an obvious topic for general conversation. It’s really important to provide the space for people to open up about their happy moments––it helps them to articulate in front of an audience what matters most to them (and may thereby inspire them even further) and it will help you to see the lighter, brighter and happier side of the people in your life.

 

Read public gratitude journals available online (simply search for “online gratitude journals”). Reading about how other people find gratitude in everyday things can inspire you to feel more hopeful generally and to see that many, many people genuinely care for the beauty and awe of this world and its beings.

  • Restore Your Faith in Humanity Step 6Bullet1.jpg

Changes in sentencing laws over the last 25 years have led to an era of mass incarceration with the prison population of the United States quadrupling since the early 1970s. In addition to America’s shift in sentencing policy, political and social forces in this country have led to a reduction in both prison rehabilitation and parole programs. As a result, more prisoners are completing full sentences while in prison, and being released with little or no legal supervision on the outside.

As Jeremy Travis states in But They All Come Back, the reality of mass incarceration has translated into a reality of reentry.

Because there are record numbers of inmates who are being released with minimal to no preparation behind bars or support services in their communities, criminal justice experts, academicians, policy makers, and practitioners have once again turned their focus to prisoners returning to society, or what has become known as prisoner reentry.

Prisoner reentry has become a lens through which to view the numerous issues related to the process of a prisoner’s release from incarceration and his or her reintegration into communities and society at large. It seeks to encourage the coordination of programs, services, and human resources–both inside and outside prison walls–in order to ensure the successful assimilation of prisoners into new lives, roles, jobs, families and communities.

The literature on prisoner reentry is considerable. Anyone looking into the subject of reentry might consider the wide array of issues subsumed under the prisoner reentry umbrella—probation, parole, prisoner deinstitutionalization, restorative justice, recidivism, crime victims’ rights, public safety, health, substance abuse, family violence, mental illness, housing, employment and economics. Questions of race, gender, and/or age are also of interest. Employ these words and/or phrases as key words in developing a successful research strategy for locating books in CUNY+ and/or journal articles in the periodical databases listed below. Reentry is sometimes spelled with a hyphen as “re-entry.” You may want to use both spellings.

 

These days many governors face a conundrum that is taxing their cost-cutting creativity. State revenues are climbing steadily, but the top line growth is eclipsed by soaring Medicaid outlays, surging retirement obligations, declining state pension fund assets and, in some states, court-mandated increases in public school funding. The pressure is so acute that state officials are now thinking the previously unthinkable — releasing inmates early to trim their prison and jail population.

The war on crime launched two decades ago spawned a wave of tougher sentencing laws. This in turn triggered a steep surge in expenditures on prisons to accommodate the influx of offenders, even including nonviolent drug offenders and recidivists snared for minor crimes by the likes of California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. As a result, the nation’s prisons are overflowing with nonviolent felons who languish behind bars many years longer than are necessary to see the error of their ways and pay their debt to society. And state expenditures on corrections have climbed by 24 percent alone in the past five years.

Excessive incarceration saddles taxpayers and government with housing, feeding and guarding prisoners well beyond the point when there’s any point at all. Once they’ve done their time, many inmates emerge from incarceration bereft of jobs, housing, money and hope. This marks them from the outset as prime candidates for recidivism. Ironically, the pressure to curb corrections expenditures has spurred state and federal officials to embrace prisoner re-entry programs, such as family assistance, housing aid, mental health services, education services and, of course, job training.

These welcome initiatives beg the question, though, of whether ex-offenders actually will be able to land jobs. To be realistic, they rarely leap to the head of the applicant queue in the eyes of employers. When the labor market is very tight, some venturesome employers take a chance on ex-inmates as a last resort. But they’re the laudable exception, seldom the rule.

The travails of ex-offenders trying to find jobs ricochet all over society. They’re in a miserable position upon release to support themselves and fulfill any child support obligations. Unable to secure jobs, they cannot burnish their credentials as trustworthy workers. Idle except for the shadowy underground economy, many eventually revert to criminality because there’s little where else for them to fit.

A soundly conceived transitional jobs program could help steer motivated ex-offenders down a constructive path and better position them to persuade employers that they’re a safe bet. But where on earth, would the money to finance it come from?

The answer may lie right under government’s nose, namely in the massive appropriations for the corrections system. The wages and supervisory costs for a minimum wage public service job total considerably less than the per inmate cost of incarceration. Voila! Releasing carefully screened inmates several years early to participate in a well-run transitional employment program could get them back on track and plow savings back to the government in the bargain. The program we are aiming to open will do this. I know there are several programs in effect and operating, but I feel the need to have one that tailors to the screened ex-offender and then start re-education and vocational training in prison. We want to have partners in certain industry to hire a certificated skill worker. We will house this candidate for six months all the while we will work on life skills and other skills needed to cope with being back into the mainstream of life. We are serious about this passion because we are the very people we want to help.

Who would they work for? I envision the corrections department contracting with other government agencies, like the highway, public works and environmental protection departments, and with reputable nonprofit groups that can provide credible training and supervision.

What kind of work would they do? To minimize static from unions understandably protective of their jobs, the ex-offenders could perform tasks that government clearly cannot afford, as evidenced by the fact that the work goes undone for years on end. Clearing, grooming and maintaining unsightly mass transit rights of way, viaducts and waterfronts are visible examples of unattended public work. The higher profile the assignments, the more taxpayers will value the debt to society being paid by the ex-offenders via their work and see the payoff from early release employment programs.

Engaging The Youth Is Innovation Within Ministry

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Our vision within our scope of outreach is to gravitate the young adults as well as the ex-offenders already in the system of corrections. Click the GofundMe insignia to view our passion. It will come to pass though it tarries…

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon
  • Relational. Effective ministry with adolescents was built on relationships. The central place of the Emmaus story in A Vision of Youth Ministry demonstrated the primacy of relationships and of discovering God within those relationships.
  • Goal-centered. In articulating two primary goals for ministry, A Vision of Youth Ministry gave specific direction while encouraging leaders in local communities to create a variety of ways to reach their goals. There was no longer one way to minister to adolescents.
  • Multidimensional. An effective ministry incorporated eight components with their program activities so that the needs of all the young people could be addressed and the resources of the community could be wisely used. This multidimensional approach was a needed response to social-only, athletics-only or religious education-only youth programming.
  • Holistic and developmental. A Vision of Youth Ministry proposed an approach that attended to a wide spectrum of adolescent needs and that was attuned to the distinct developmental, social, cultural, and religious needs of adolescents.
  • People-centered and needs-focused. A Vision of Youth Ministry focused on young people. It encouraged an approach designed to address the particular needs of young people in their communities. A Vision of Youth Ministry did not recommend program models or specific activities, recognizing that the day had passed when one program structure could respond to all the needs of youth.

 

e, Sr., has a tremendous passion for God’s WORD coupled with agape love for all God’s people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his ministry.

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

George Washington Carver

 

The emerging consensus of research shows a growing percentage of young adults are not connected with any religion, although many younger Americans express an interest in spirituality. This reality raises concern about young adult participation in religious communities.

What is the involvement of young adults in local congregations of all faiths across the United States? And how are faith communities with significant proportion of young adults distinctive?

youth-min

For these resources, a congregation is considered to have significant young adult participation if 21% or more of its participants were 18 to 34 years of age.  Across all faiths, a total of only 16% of all congregations were in this category.

The resources below explore patterns and practices of churches and other congregations with significant young adult involvement.

A report summarizing the research on churches and faith communities with significant young adult participation highlighted their distinctive characteristics.

A narrative review of current literature on the topic of young adult participation (PDF).  This review was authored by LiErin Probasco, a PhD candidate in sociology at Princeton University. She has been involved in young adult ministry and taught the subject at seminaries in Virginia and New England.  She is currently engaged in community research in East Palo Alto, California.

A summary of the best practices for young adult ministry based on the following case studies and our research. (PDF)

And finally, ten case studies of churches and other faith communities with significant young adult involvement.  These cases were chosen to capture to diversity of American religious congregations today. They vary in size from a group as small as 50 to a megachurch and are from multiple faith traditions.  In each case the case study involved one or more on-site visits with the local group and interviews with key leaders and some of the young adult participants, as well as gleaning information from working documents and Web sites.

A few years ago, one of us (Ken) was part of an ongoing study group with a profoundly ecumenical mix of clergy.

Ranging in age from the late 20s to the early 60s, the members were from the United States, Canada and Ireland and represented a variety of faith traditions: Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Jewish, United Methodist and Presbyterian.

As Ken and his colleagues reflected on their experiences leading people of faith, they came to an unexpected epiphany: none of their congregations placed much value on ministries with youth.

The large Roman Catholic parish always assigned youth ministry to the newest priest. Two of the mainline congregations hired staff from other denominations to lead their youth groups. And a couple of the other churches had simply abandoned the field to parachurch organizations.

That conversation opened Ken’s eyes. He realized for the first time that mainline churches in the United States have essentially outsourced ministries with youth.

The reasons for this development are varied. Youth are rarely in positions of power in local churches and often have no strong advocate on church governing boards. Clergy who have studied and trained in theological schools often prefer to preach and teach among adults — the typical and most rewarded career path in ministry. And given the very nature of adolescence — a sometimes chaotic and messy season in life — youth ministry is inherently challenging work.

As a result, many congregations have all but walked away from the field, allocating minimal resources to youth programs and hiring people with little theological training to lead them.

To borrow from the work of Clayton Christensen, this is a classic “bottom of the market” scenario in which disruptive innovation occurs. As Christensen might argue, overlooked youth ministries operating out on the margins — just like small steel mills making low-grade rebar — do not remain marginal. Youth ministers mature and develop; the most effective ones are not content simply to lead small groups in abandoned church basements.

While mainline churches were looking the other way, many youth ministries transitioned from small groups to larger gatherings with sophisticated music and technology to entire alternative worship services. It is not an accident that many of the most effective and visible megachurch pastors in the United States (Adam Hamilton and Bill Hybels among them) began as youth ministers. At the same time, many parachurch organizations such as Young Life discovered new ways to engage youth directly, bypassing congregations and connecting their ministries to high schools and other contexts.

And so, in the same way that Toyota entered the American auto market with the low-end Corona (which eventually morphed into the Land Cruiser and the entire Lexus line of luxury cars), marginalized youth ministries became laboratories for innovation. And like 1970s-era General Motors, mainline Protestant denominations largely ignored them. Like GM, we stayed too long with established models even as they declined in numbers and quality.

Meanwhile, new laboratories in congregations and parachurch organizations flourished, offering young people significant opportunities to experience Christ. Over the years, as mainline Protestants settled for weaker forms of youth ministry, many of these laboratories became their own vibrant institutions — with real consequences for mainline Protestants.

As a result of our neglect of youth ministries, mainline Protestants have lost young people who might otherwise have grown up to become adult leaders in our congregations. Even more important, we have also lost an untold number of gifted young people who might have considered a call to ordained ministry.

Fortunately, Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation also tells us that solutions are possible. Hand-wringing despair is not mainline Protestants’ only option. Rather, we can learn from the best insights of these laboratories and develop our own skunk-works experiments.

Duke Divinity School has already developed one such experiment, the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation, which has had a profound impact on many of its participants — not only the teenagers who attend the academy every summer but also Divinity School faculty and alumni. Many other seminaries have developed similar academies, most with the visionary support of Lilly Endowment Inc. And some mainline congregations are investing more resources and talent in ministries with young people.

At the same time, we need to remember that the growth of youth ministry laboratories has not been an unequivocal success. Clearly, youth ministries still have room for improvement — much of which the mainline is uniquely positioned to achieve. The lack of theological education among those who serve and lead adolescents going through one of life’s most developmentally important seasons is a travesty. Approximately 70 percent of full-time youth ministers have no theological education, according toone recent survey.

Already, experiments to help address this challenge are emerging from within mainline Protestantism. Building on the Youth Academy, Duke Divinity School now offers a master of arts in Christian practicedesigned for active youth ministers in partnership with their congregations. The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church offers a youth director cohort that provides skills training, vocational support and spiritual formation for persons serving in youth ministry programs.

When we recall Ken’s conversation with ecumenical clergy, we might be tempted to avoid the subject — and the challenge — of youth ministry altogether. After all, Christensen called this kind of change “disruptive” for a reason.

It will be no small task for pastors and judicatory leaders to rethink our practice of outsourcing — or worse, ignoring — youth ministry. But it will be equally challenging to allow new forms of worship, music, technology and community to reform us.

The future of mainline Protestant witness will depend on whether we can incorporate disruptive innovation into our identity for the sake of ongoing faithful Christian witness.

When we were in seminary, one of our professors published a book entitled “Will Our Children Have Faith?” In the light of the disruptions of the past several decades, the question we need to ask ourselves now is, “Will our faith have children?”

Pastor Kendall B. Goslee, Sr., has a tremendous passion for God’s WORD coupled with agape love for all God’s people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his ministry.

Pastor Kendall B. Goslee, Sr., has a tremendous passion for God’s WORD coupled with agape love for all God’s people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his ministry.

Happy Birthday Aaron

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Happy Birthday Aaron


Nine campaigns, several struggles within myself, but this is what it’s all about.. Being blessed inwardly and knowing it is the best. 

Thank you, God, for giving me another year of life.
Thank you for all the people who remembered me today
by sending cards, and letters, gifts and good wishes.

Thank you for all the experience of this past year;
for times of success which will always be happy memories,
for times of failure which reminded me of my own weakness and of my need for you,

for times of joy when the sun was shining,
for times of sadness which drove me to you.

Forgive me
for the hours I wasted,
for the chances I failed to take,
for the opportunities I missed this past year.
Help me in the days ahead to make this the best year yet,
and through it to bring good credit to myself,
happiness and pride to my loved ones,
and joy to you. Amen.

Good Or Guilt

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Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.

Martin Luther

I did an interview today and was asked about how I make decisions regarding helping others. I told the interviewer if I encounter somebody in need but don’t feel like helping them, I usually don’t. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But I explained the reason I don’t is because there are plenty of people I actually do feel like helping. And each of us only has so much time and so many resources, so I can’t choose both.

If I help the people I want to help, I’ll actually follow through, they will sense my sincerity, and the whole experience will be more enjoyable for both of us.

Not only this, but if I help the other person out of a sense of duty, I’m not so much helping them as I’m trying to get rid of my negative feelings of guilt or responsibility. My reasons are marginally selfish: I want to stop feeling guilty.

Are there times when we should do something because we feel guilty? Sure. But I don’t think there are as many as we think. I don’t want to be driven by guilt, I want to be driven by love.

In the work I do, I’m constantly asking people for help. All kinds of help. But my friends help me, I hope, because they like me, because we are friends, and because they believe in the projects I’m working on, not because they feel guilty. I don’t want anybody to help me because they feel guilty.

So, here’s how I choose where to serve, based on trying to serve for the fun of it and the love of it rather than the “ought to” of it.

  1. I try to contribute by offering the kind of help that fits my skill sets, talent and passion. For me, this means either writing advice, blogging advice, marketing help and so on. I could easily go volunteer at my local homeless shelter, but honestly, I’d be much better helping somebody who actually needs my skill and experience and I’d make a much bigger difference in their life. Why wouldn’t I choose to help where I could be the most help?
  2. I normally try to serve people I like and respect. This makes serving easy because you just get to hang out and partner with good people. Helping people you like and respect makes helping fun.
  3. I try to contribute to projects I believe in and want to see succeed. This doesn’t mean the other projects aren’t good for the world, it just means they don’t light me up.  I’m not excited about all sorts of amazing things. I’m excited for the people who are excited about them, but for whatever reason, I’m just not feeling it with them. Why? Because we are all different, and different things light us up. If I’m going to contribute several hours a week to something, I want it to be toward something I can get behind, daydream about and help into existence. I don’t want it to feel like work, I want it to feel like fun.

So, an obvious question you might have is: Where’s the sacrifice?

I’ll answer that question in the form of a question: Why do we assume a sacrifice has to feel negative?

People sometimes comment about this point by saying Jesus made sacrifices in the garden. Specifically, some people say Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross, He did so out of obligation or duty. I disagree with this idea, at least in part.

I believe the reason Jesus didn’t want to be crucified is because He was sane! Nobody in their right mind would want to be crucified. In fact, He asked His Father if He could somehow get out of it. Who could blame Him? But to say He was crucified even though He didn’t want to be crucified is to take the idea too far. He wanted to sacrifice on our behalf, He just didn’t want to feel the torture and the pain. A mother wants to give birth, but she doesn’t want to feel pain either. Still, if you tell her it’s going to hurt terribly, she’s not going to back out of it, she wants to have the baby. A dad wakes up and takes care of his crying child, even though he doesn’t want to get out of bed. Are they doing these things out of a sense of duty or obligation? Hopefully not. Hopefully they are making sacrifices because they want to.

God does the loving thing all the time, even when the loving thing will bring Him pain, pain He’d rather avoid. And He does the loving thing because He wants to, because He loves His creation, and because He is love. God is not motivated by guilt, shame or even a sense of duty. He is only motivated by love.

Jesus isn’t in an army, He’s in a family. He’s in a trinitarian relationship in which each member loves the other. They’re not raising the trinitarian flag every morning and saying a pledge, they just love each other. Love is the only motivation God has for anything He does, including acts of justice.

So what does this have to do with you? A lot. I think doing things because we want to, out of a loving motivation, is better than doing things out of a sense of duty. In fact, I think dutiful motivations are closely akin to pride, while loving motivations are not.

I know I’ve just lost half of you. But stick with me and think about these ideas. Answer a few questions for me in your mind:

Do you do acts of kindness out of a sense of duty, or out of a sense of enjoyment and love? Do you do acts of kindness to be right, or because you enjoy doing them and are motivated by love? And here’s an even tougher question: Do you enjoy the sacrifices you make for others? And would it be harder to call those sacrifices sacrifices if you genuinely enjoyed the work? Are you getting some kind of martyr complex by doing stuff you don’t want to do? Does it make you proud that you made such a sacrifice? And if you are getting a sense of pride for your sacrifice, is it really a sacrifice by your definition? After all, you’re kind of getting paid for it …

If you asked your dad why he sacrifices so much for you, which answer would be more affirming: an answer in which he stated it was his duty as a father, or an answer in which he just said, “Because I love you.” Which answer seems more selfless?

And let me ask you a final question. Think about it for a while, maybe for a few days. Can you imagine a life in which you were no longer motivated by guilt, shame or a sense of duty? Can you imagine a life in which you served God out of love and enjoyment and even fun? Would you feel OK with God if you were actually happy? If not, I want to suggest you’ve fallen into a religious kind of trap that may be far removed from the joy of loving and knowing and serving God.

If you’d like a more joyful life, start serving in the ways God has gifted you to serve, and cut out all the duty and obligation and pride crap. If you are teaching Sunday school out of a sense of obligation, stop. Literally stop as soon as you can. Instead, find something that gets you fired up. Who knows what that something is—maybe it’s plumbing or carpentry work, maybe it’s counseling executives, maybe it’s walking people’s dogs or planting a community garden. Who knows, but serve in a way God has wired you to serve. He actually wants you to enjoy it, not offer it to Him as some sort of sad sacrifice. Can you imagine your earthly father wanting you to be miserable all the time? Why do we imagine God would be so dysfunctional and, well, mean?

Make the kinds of sacrifices that you LOVE to make. In other words, be like God.