Free Minds Apprentices present visionary boards
Our reentry members are becoming community change-makers thanks to your generous support! Since our last report, we welcomed a new group of apprentices into our intensive Job Readiness and Personal Skill Building Apprenticeship--they have now been paired with employment that suits their interests and skills, enrolled into a training program, or begun conducting community outreach through our nonviolence program known as “On the Same Page.” Read on to learn more about the inspiring work of our previously incarcerated youth!
Washington Post Magazine Publishes Groundbreaking Issue by Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Writers
In November, the Washington Post Magazine released a very special issue written, illustrated and photographed by currently and formerly incarcerated people in the United States. Free Minds served as advisers for this issue, and we're proud to announce that two of our Free Minds members were featured! Free Minds members Demetrius B. and Johnny B. submitted personal essays, which were hand selected over hundreds of candidates. This issue is historic in its recognition of the vital need to hear from those directly impacted by the criminal legal system. You can find all the stories here.
You can find all personal essays here.
Recently Released Members complete Job Readiness and Personal Skill Building Apprenticeship
This fall, we welcomed a new group of young men home from prison into our intensive Job Readiness and Personal Skill Building Apprenticeship. Our Apprentices participated in workshops on topics such as financial literacy, giving back, effective communication, storytelling, conflict resolution, and more. Most importantly, they heard advice and encouragement from fellow Free Minds members who are home, working, and ready to welcome them to the circle of support that never breaks.
At the end of the apprenticeship, apprentices, staff, and Free Minds supporters presented personal vision boards on success and future goals and dreams. Free Minds staff and supporters left apprentices with words of encouragement and presented each apprentice with their very own personalized gift—a book representing each apprentices special interest.
After participating in our Apprenticeship, Free Minds apprentice Craig began working at a bowling company and Free Minds apprentice Antonio enrolled into a work readiness program, known as DC Career Connections, to jumpstart his career. Additionally, former Free Minds apprentice Damon graduated from the Building Futures program, which offers certifications for careers in the union construction trades; Free Minds member Brandon graduated from a Commercial Driver’s License program; and Free Minds member Malik began his career with UPS.
Our members have reached tremendous milestones because of your investment. Your belief in our work makes successfully achieving a 9% recidivism rate (compared to a national rate of 75.9%) and a 90% job and school placement rate possible.
Congratulations to everyone!
Poet Ambassadors Bring Poetry and New Perspectives to DC Police Academy
Free Minds staff and Poet Ambassadors (previously incarcerated members) spoke to nearly 150 recruits about youth and mass incarceration, sharing personal testimonies of change and poetry from our book, The Untold Story of the Real Me: Young Voices from Prison. Shortly after, recruits broke out into groups and engaged in a "Write Night" activity, which included reading and responding to original poetry written by our incarcerated members. Many of the recruits shared that they were native Washingtonians and could identify with the themes of the poems. For some, their loved ones are currently incarcerated.
As soon-to-be officers, the recruits were eager to ask our Poet Ambassadors for advice. After being asked, "What advice would you give to us to make sure no else goes through what you went through?" Poet Ambassador Chris answered, "Do your job to the best of your ability, but be honest and don't rush to judgement, and you'll be alright." Chris was wrongfully convicted as a teen and served over 20 years in prison.
Thank you Georgetown Law's Program on Innovating Policing's Police for Tomorrow Fellowship Program and MPD Academy for making this happen!
Thank you for making all of this possible. We are only as great as our community!
Special WP issue featuring FM members
Poet Ambassador Chris offers recruits advice
FM Apprentice Craig is gifted a book by FM Staff
FM Apprentice Shannon is gifted a book by FM Staff
Poet Ambassador Cliff offers recruits advice