While some Free Minds members receive lengthy sentences, the majority of Free Minds members serve between three and seven years before they are released into the community. Building upon a sustained connection made in the Book Club and Continuing Support Programs, Free Minds connects its recently released members to the resources and programs in the community that will help them achieve their educational and career goals.
Free Minds provides a month-long paid Job Readiness and Life Skills Apprenticeship Program for recently-released members. During this month-long Apprenticeship, participants provide program support in the Free Minds office, which allows them to give back to their community while practicing essential skills including computer literacy, communication, teamwork, and office protocol. Each apprentice also has the opportunity to gain valuable on-the-job experience by working for DC-area remodeling, cleaning and landscaping companies. Our Apprenticeship Program is led by Training Manager Marcus Bullock and Job Site Supervisor Anthony Belton, both business owners, returning citizens, and valuable role models. The Free Minds Apprenticeship also includes workshops led by experts from the community who give their time and energy to instruct the apprentices on topics such as resume writing, job interviews, college preparation, nutrition, physical fitness, family planning, entrepreneurship, and workplace problem solving. Because giving back to the program is an important aspect of the Reentry Support phase, apprentices also have the opportunity to speak at community outreach events as Poet Ambassadors.
RS members form the core of Free Minds’s “On the Same Page” initiative (see here), where they practice their leadership skills and share from their own experiences to prevent youth violence and to educate and inspire others.