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“Education Not Incarceration” - A Call For Advocacy and Access to Reentry Programs

“Education Not Incarceration”

For many youths, access to educational resources, networks, and opportunities are limited and unaligned. By the same token, we all know and see the result of not having access to quality programs that stretch our imagination beyond hopeless upbringings and environments that lead many to a path of incarceration. For me, the “EDUCATION NOT INCARCERATION” hoodie by Black Vibe Tribe represents my responsibility as a human, husband, advocate, and Man of Alpha to remain steadfast in the fight to create better opportunities for our youth.

From beginning my professional career as a youth advocate working directly with justice-involved youth and adults, I saw firsthand the value of experimental learning programs and what it meant for youth previously incarcerated to have access to and build social capital.


How are you motivating the minds and spirits of our youth?


When was the last time you took the time to mentor a youth within or outside of your network?


Often we see the unpopular opinion on college, skill-based training, technology schools, and health care careers but as I previously wrote in an article, the power of reading a book that represents you, your situation, and can inspire is something we all long to see.

The challenge remains to connect our youth and adults to opportunities that expose them to a brighter future beyond their situation. As you can imagine, the common theme among justice-involved youth was that there was little to no male representation in the household. And this is not exclusive to just African- American households. Per a report conducted by the Sentencing Project , most imprisoned parents among minor children (18yr & younger) are fathers. But the results of parents being incarcerated don't stop with a broken family, according to the National Institute of Justice, the effect of parental incarceration on children included academic suspension, increased anxiety, anti-social behavior, economic hardship, and criminal activity.

This brings home the point that anyone, anywhere can be impacted by incarceration and the lasting consequences carry from generation to generation. As a former workforce development coordinator with an International Non Profit focused on justice-involved youth, we used experiential learning and development to connect youth to their passion in the areas of technology, retail, customer service, and business. Teaching youth soft and hard skills such as “Honoring your Commitments” or “How to Dress for an Interview” we began to bridge the gap between the reality of the world of work. I saw many youths become more engaged and confident for their future with new opportunities they were presented that challenged their intellect and transferred street smarts into industry knowledge. Now more than ever our focus must shift inward to our communities and the education of our youth and adults alike.


Workforce Development Training With DC Youth in 2018

Most recently, I was reintroduced to workforce development within our communities. This partnership came by way of my Verizon employee resource group, BOLD (Black originators, Leaders, and Doers) of Verizon. Verizon volunteers were matched with one member of the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network (ICAN), to engage in monthly professional coaching on a range of topics. ICAN is made up entirely of people who were imprisoned as children and returned home as adults, many of whom served decades behind bars. This partnership has truly renewed my hope for our youth and adults who were faced with incarceration and are now seeking professional development and education as part of their reentry. Being part of this give-back opportunity, I leaned on my prior experience with youth to assist in my engagement. One thing I was missing was an adult education curriculum, learning activities that were engaging and relevant to the individual mentorship. This challenge presented a new opportunity for me to update my knowledge and understanding of the top skills requested amongst returning citizens and what employers are looking for. Through programs, advocacy, mentorship, and education, I am confident we are changing the narrative for our future in a positive way. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, seek information and lead from the front!


"We cannot always

build the future for

our youth, but we can

build our youth for

the future."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Get Involved ! Are you looking to make a change and volunteer within your community? Check out these resources that offer virtual and in-person volunteer events within the community :

Volunteer Match


  • Youth Advocate Programs, Inc

  • National Academy Foundation

  • Safe Streets

  • Street Law

  • I-CAN


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Featured Statement Hoodie: @blackvibetribe

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