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- JUMPSTART SC has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Truist Charitable Fund.
Proposed Opportunity Center: JUMPSTART SC has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Truist Charitable Fund. This launches a three-year partnership, supporting the Opportunity Center at Restoration Village, a transitional housing community in Wellford, South Carolina. Greenville, SC, (Feb. 15, 2024) – JUMPSTART SC today announced it received a grant from the Truist Community Catalyst Initiative—a three-year program supporting local initiatives with statewide impact funded by the Truist Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund administered by The Winston-Salem Foundation. This grant will support a comprehensive resource hub for formerly incarcerated individuals, providing them with essential tools and support to reintegrate into the workforce and society. The partnership aims to equip participants with essential life skills, financial literacy, and workforce development training. It will facilitate ongoing support and assistance, fostering supportive relationships for transformation. Participants will have the opportunity to acquire transferable culinary skills at an onsite culinary arts facility. Moreover, participants are provided with stable, safe, and affordable living conditions throughout their two years in the program. Employment opportunities will be available through JUMPSTART's employer network. Additionally, 200 individuals will receive guidance in securing reliable transportation. Lastly, a significant aim of the partnership is that 50 individuals graduating from JUMPSTART will become homeowners during this three-year period. Cary Sanders, Chief Executive Officer of JUMPSTART SC states that, “As partners like Truist and others come along side us, we are able to provide men and women with transformational opportunities to get their lives back on track. When men and women experience restoration, cycles of crime and addiction are broken, and our entire community wins.” “Truist is proud to support JUMPSTART SC’s important work,” said Alex Brame, Truist regional president of South Carolina. “Our purpose is to inspire and build better lives and communities, and supporting organizations such as JUMPSTART SC helps us make a positive impact where we work and live.” About JUMPSTART SC In cooperation with donors, churches, and the community, JUMPSTART disciples current and former prisoners and assists with re-entry into society. We accomplish our mission through a holistic residential program and community partnerships to address the spiritual, educational, employment, healthcare, housing, and family relationship needs. About the Truist Charitable Fund The Truist Charitable Fund ("TCF") is committed to Truist Financial Corporation's (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives. TCF was established as a donor-advised fund and is administered by The Winston-Salem Foundation. TCF invests in local community organizations, focusing on grants that support initiatives and programs in the areas of educational equity, leadership development, career pathways, small business, and community services. To learn more about Truist's purpose, visit https://www.truist.com/who-we-are/about-truist
- Programs Don't Spark Change. People Do.
Programs don’t spark change. People do. There’s a famous program that talks a lot about their efforts in reducing recidivism. We are not going to call them out by name, because that’s not what we’re about. But … trust us. You’ve heard of them. They do not have as much good will as they claim. In reality, all they do is toss former inmates in an 8-week program. A program that’s funded nicely by government grants. They get inexpensive labor and call it job training. There are no relationships. There are no real connections. There is no pathway towards real opportunity. And, as a result, the program this company runs isn’t very effective. That’s what sets JUMPSTART SC apart. We are committed to investing in people. We are committed to linking arms for the long haul. We are committed to relationships. Instead of handing someone a bus ticket and helping them write a resume … We go to hiring managers directly and fight for our program participants. Instead of helping them find rental ads online … We are building a community for them to live in. Instead of 8-week courses on how to avoid going back to jail … We invest years in our participants, giving them the tools and guiding them in their faith, helping them transform from the inside, out. JUMPSTART isn’t about a program. It’s about people who can have a bright future when others invest. Which is why South Carolina has the lowest recidivism rate in the nation. JUMPSTART SC is in 19 of South Carolina’s 21 prisons. And we’re just getting started. Join us. Get Involved Today
- What kind of people do you celebrate?
What kind of people do you celebrate? Kindness, helpfulness, and humility are qualities that attract people to one another. Those who make a difference in the lives of others deserve to be celebrated for their generosity and kindness. One of those people is Matthew. Matthew’s journey with JUMPSTART SC began while he was incarcerated at Perry. After completing our prison ministry program, he came back the next year to serve as an inside leader. He grew into one who gave hope. Who helped others discover the purpose in Christ. Upon his release in October 2020, he knew JUMPSTART’s transitional program was where the Lord was leading him. Immediately, he began serving others. He began taking on more responsibility than he had to because he wanted to love those around him well. When he graduated two years ago, he could have moved back to his hometown to be closer to family, but he chose to join our team as a housing manager. In this role, he lives as a missionary in our intake home ensuring those in the program have the daily encouragement, support, and accountability they need to thrive. Matthew has had a difficult few weeks. He has been in and out of the hospital. His doctors are still uncertain what is wrong with him. Yet, even in difficulty he remains steadfast and eager to serve others. In the midst of difficulty, he lives as a Christ follower should. We ask you to pause for a moment and pray that, if it is His will, Matthew's health will be restored fully. JUMPSTART is committed to breaking the cycles of addiction and crime. We love seeing people secure their own transportation, become employed, and save for their future. We are full of awe as we witness God give them beauty from ashes. When we see one transform from a prisoner to a homeowner we literally cheer with joy. However, these results are a by-product of what the JUMPSTART family prizes most. We believe freedom from addiction, making responsible choices, and serving others are natural outcomes of discipleship. When men and women are taught to follow the Lord, cycles of crime and addiction are replaced a lifestyle serving others, taking responsibility for one’s future, serving in church, and being wise and diligent with the opportunities one is afforded. Matthew may never be a homeowner. He may never marry again. But these aren't the things most important to him. Matthew’s hope is in Christ and whatever He has for him. He knows he is getting closer to his eternal reward every day. Matthew understands his purpose is to make a difference in the world for God’s glory. Matthew is rich in the things that matter most. JUMPSTART SC exists to teach incarcerated individuals about God's purpose for their lives, how to live as a disciple, and to provide tangible support to people coming out of prisons so they can flourish and live passionately for God's glory above all else. God uses the JUMPSTART family to make redemption stories like Matthew’s possible. Many have served and given to ensure discipleship and transformational opportunities are available. There are many other stories like Matthew’s that we’ve all witnessed over the years. And there are more stories like theirs that will occur as we each do our part to ensure more men and women have access to discipleship and transitional services. If you are able and want to become more involved than you are currently, please reach out. Together, as we continue to join the Lord in His work, more will come to know and love Him as King. Give Now to Support Life Transformation
- An outside view on what JUMPSTART does for formerly incarcerated people.
When approaching this story on second chance employment, I imagined I would speak with employers and see their point of view. But, what I quickly failed to realize is the power that programs like JUMPSTART hold when they transform the lives of those who are formerly incarcerated. When I reached out to Jordan Durham to work on this story, she was immediately helpful and set something up for me to come and speak with Jeremy Walker, the Chief of Staff, and Justin Durrell, the Director of Operations. I did not know that when I walked in to meet Jordan, I would be intruding on a morning meeting where they were discussing their group read of Atomic Habits and quickly invited me to join the meeting and listen to their discussion that ended with a prayer. I quickly noticed that this program is hands-on and that it is so successful because of the people behind it. When I spoke to Jeremy, he was so open and honest about his past and how he ended up at JUMPSTART. From serving time in Allendale to working at UPS to becoming the Inside Program Administrator, it was apparent that he wanted to help others the way the inside program of JUMPSTART helped him. He shared with me how JUMPSTART helps people learn how to develop a budget; apply for job interviews; and provide them with housing and transportation. That is what stuck with me - for many of these people, the hurdle does not just stop at getting a job; it also is being able to get to and from the job and to and from the interview. When I sat at that morning meeting, the team pulled up the schedule, which was filled with different colors and time blocks of when participants had interviews or work and which person would be taking them to their destination. Following my conversation with Jeremy, I knew my story of how this program is successful is rooted in his own story. His willingness to tell me his past and the ways that he grew from JUMPSTART and aims to do the same for others was inspiring, and I felt like a representation of everything this organization strives to be. When I walked over to the housing complex right outside of the office, I instantly noticed the multitude of prayers lining the walls. There was a bible verse right over the entryway, along with posters of different verses and a constant reminder of the faith-driven motive behind JUMPSTART. Second-chance employment gives people a chance to start over and adjust back to a society that kept moving while they served time. But, it is programs like JUMPSTART that do much more than just find people a job, they help them create a new life. Employees like Jeremy and Justin work to give back the help they once received. As Jeremy put it, “It is a labor of love.” Gracie Rorie, Senior Broadcast and Journalism Major at USC
- 2023 Impact Report
Open this Blog to Access our 15 Year Impact Report. Click the four arrows in the bottom right corner for the best reading experience.
- Chris Rivers: Transforming Lives with JUMPSTART SC's Personal Mission Connection
JUMPSTART's mission hits home for me because I've walked a similar path. Growing up in what looked like a successful family, I took a wrong turn at 16, diving into a rebellious phase and seeking approval through drugs. Despite my parents' efforts, I ended up on a dangerous road toward potential tragedy. Thankfully, at 19, I met Steven Merwin from Campus Outreach, and his commitment to Christ helped me confront my sin and brokenness. On December 2nd, 1996, I prayed the sinner's prayer, surrendering my life to Jesus. Unfortunately, the struggle with honesty and the search for approval persisted, leading me to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Eventually, I would take it seriously, and with the help of a mentor named Jack O’Connell, I took steps through recovery, sparking a newfound desire to serve the Lord. I'm blessed with a wonderful family now—Rachel and I married in 2002, and we're raising three amazing kids, 19, 18, and 16. Parenting is my most cherished responsibility, and I'm profoundly grateful for my family. My professional journey has been diverse, starting in real estate and finance before a pivotal moment in 2009 when my pastor entrusted me with launching an initiative supporting churches in funding their vision. Being a part of the launch of SecureGive marked the beginning of my passion for creating purpose-driven cultures and fostering organizational clarity. In 2010, I joined Newspring Church in Anderson, where I leveraged technology and launched Staff Development to align discipleship objectives. Later, I created CultureBus—a culture development process that has served various churches and businesses. After starting to consult at Grace Church in Greenville, SC in 2018, I eventually joined the staff as a Ministry Specialist, spearheading objectives for staff and volunteers. Despite the diverse roles, the common thread has always been building momentum around a compelling vision. Now, as the Director of Strategic Impact at JUMPSTART, I hope to empower others using the gifts and experiences God has blessed me with. I understand the metaphorical shackles of sin and brokenness, having experienced God's relentless pursuit of transformation. Jesus not only rescued me but changed my entire perspective on life. The opportunity to be a Stephen Merwin and a Jack O’Connell, assisting others on a similar journey, is a profound gift for which I am truly grateful. Jumpstart's mission aligns with my story, and I am eager to contribute to transforming lives from the inside out. Chris Rivers Director of Strategic Impact JUMPSTART SC
- A Few Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way
We all have stories, some messier and more intriguing than others. Over the past ten years, my wild roller-coaster from being a prisoner to a husband, father, and CEO, all while earning a doctorate has been a worthwhile, and quite often, wild adventure. I’ve had a lot to learn, and still feel like I’m in first grade in the school of life. Here are a few of the lessons I’m thinking about today that I’ve learned along the way. I share in hopes that the lessons will be helpful to someone – maybe even to you. 1. Breaking Chains: Overcoming the Disease to Please Some find themselves in literal prison cells, ensnared in compromising situations, or overcommitted and exhausted, all because they couldn't break free from the insidious need to please. Saying 'no' isn't just about setting boundaries; it's about unlocking true freedom. By learning to say no without guilt, you not only protect your health but also have more time to focus on what matters most to you and those you love. Annihilating the disease to please ensures your choices are genuinely yours and not dictated by the whims of others. Often in one’s quest for recognition and acceptance, we will say yes to people and commitments that don’t advance us in the mission God has for us. Being overcommitted drains our energy and keeps us from focusing on what matters most. I’m often asked to meet with people or travel to speak, and it’s been hard learning which opportunities to accept and which to decline. I don’t always get it right, I’m sure. Maybe I have missed out on a million-dollar opportunity…too bad. I’m more concerned with not missing out on loving my wife well and being home as often as possible while my children are growing up. So I consider opportunities carefully, make a decision in light of what matters most, and move on. Remember, every 'yes' you give out is an investment of your limited, finite life. Prioritize what truly matters. By wisely choosing where and with whom you spend your time, you protect your most valuable asset and ensure you have the energy to consistently move toward your purpose. Guard your time, align it with God’s intentions for you, and ensure every moment propels you forward. 2. Ditch the Candy, Hold Out for the Steak Maybe I should’ve played golf in my free time and built more professional relationships rather than spending time earning a doctorate. Maybe not. Only time will tell if earning a doctorate while working full-time was the right thing to do in my particular situation. My guess is that it has given me some additional credibility post-incarceration. It has opened doors of opportunity for me. I don’t know what you could achieve that would further develop your competency in the specific mission you’re assigned, but I do know you will likely have to sacrifice to flourish. People and organizations that are world-class don’t just fall into that category. They have to reject passivity and laziness daily and do hard things to achieve great outcomes. If you want to soar with the eagles, you'll often have to pass up on the chicken feed. Greatness demands you look beyond today's craving. 3. Nuke Self-Destructive Demons Let's cut to the chase: we're all flawed. Do you have secrets or struggle with destructive thoughts or behaviors? Sure you do. Everyone does. Don’t allow knowing the worst about yourself to cause you to treat yourself poorly or settle for less than God’s best in your life. Negative self-talk and/or destructive behaviors are often the greatest battles anyone ever fights. There are cheat codes for these inner demons. Christ has the cure for this internal disease called sin. Learn to apply it daily – or more like every minute. And even in the midst of the battle, remember there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. So, if you are living in fear, shame, and/or self-condemnation – you need to come to grips with whether you believe Jesus is sufficient or not. You need to believe Him even in the midst of the battle. If you don’t know Him and would like to meet Him, I’d be happy to make the introduction. Got a battle you can’t seem to win? Go see a professional. They’ve heard it all before – and probably worse – and if they are any good – they will be able to help you or connect you with someone who is better suited for your particular strain of iniquity. If you could have fixed what your struggle is by yourself, you would have done so already – so humble yourself and get help – the world needs what the best version of you has to offer. 4. Choose Your Tribe with Wisdom – Or Pay the Price Biblical wisdom teaches and social science research confirms that "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." This isn't just poetic; it's practical. Surrounding yourself with individuals who challenge and inspire is life-changing. On the flip side, the wrong company will keep you from achieving your potential and often lead you into difficulties. Every friend leaves a mark; it's up to you whether it's a polish or a scar. As a craftsman is only as good as his tools, you're only as sharp, focused, and resilient as the company you keep. In prison, most laughed, and rather loudly, when I dreamed out loud that I might go to college after prison. Only had a GED at the time. I almost didn’t even take a first step because of their toxic negativity. At university, while some probably well-intentioned but probably also holier-than-thou types avoided me after learning my story, others actively encouraged me to continue fighting the good fight. This encouragement was fuel in my tank. Choose your influencers wisely. Your life is at stake. 5. Deciphering Truth in a World of Noise Everyone has an opinion, and they are often wrong. So are you. Be humble and willing to pivot. Ever heard the saying, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"? Throughout history, we're reminded that not all advice, even when well-intentioned, is golden. While everyone has an opinion, it's essential to sift through the noise and discern what’s merely someone’s opinion and what’s wisdom in a particular situation. What worked for someone else may not work for you – or it may be exactly what you need. Be willing to listen – but free from the pressure to conform to whatever they believe is best. History is replete with examples of people who had to defy conventional wisdom and the opinions of others to make discoveries and world-changing inventions. If I had to give a dollar for every well-intentioned but bad piece of advice I’ve heard, I’d be destitute, and I wouldn’t be where I am today. We exist in a world of ideas and choices we make from those ideas. To have a life of peace, joy, and contentment, the true treasures in my experience, we all must learn to decipher between what is true and what is not. Remember, sailing through life's waters using a faulty compass can lead you off course and even shipwreck your journey. Stay open to wisdom, especially from God’s Word, friends, mentors, and family members who have your best interest at heart but be alert and wise. Knowing when to adjust your sails can be the difference between smooth sailing and being lost at sea. Dr. Cary Sanders CEO JUMPSTART SC
- Meet Blake Sanders: A Husband, Father, and Community Champion
Meet Blake Sanders: A Husband, Father, and Community Champion In the bustling town of West Pelzer, there's a man who wears many hats – husband, father, mayor, landscape architect, planner, and professor. But if you ask him, Blake Sanders will tell you that being a husband and father are the roles closest to his heart. Why? Because Blake knows that it's the people in our lives who matter most. Blake is a strong supporter of JUMPSTART Landscaping, that's been making a positive impact in West Pelzer. While the organization has done amazing work implementing Blake's landscape designs, he'll be the first to tell you that the true heroes are the landscaping employees working tirelessly on the job site. Their camaraderie and shared moments of prayer matter more to him than any project. But how did Blake end up on this remarkable journey of creativity and community development? It all started with childhood memories of playing with Lego sets, sparking his interest in creative projects. Later on, he ventured into teaching but quickly realized it wasn't his calling. During his time at Southern Wesleyan University, he honed essential skills in time management and budgeting, setting the stage for his future career. Blake's creativity flows not just from the environment but from his mindset. He dedicates three days to immerse himself in each project, focusing on one client and one deliverable at a time. He uses the Charette Process to involve clients deeply in the planning process. One of Blake's notable achievements was the establishment of Studio Main, an evolution of his past internships and experiences in places like Istanbul, Turkey. It's all about fostering a sense of community, focusing on what matters most, and creating walkable, likable, safe, enjoyable, and economically sound spaces. But Blake's community involvement doesn't end there. As an elected official of West Pelzer, he saw a need for change. His efforts transformed the community into a thriving space where people could connect, walk, bike, and enjoy the outdoors together. Today, not only are there vibrant local businesses meeting the community's needs, but there are also like-minded business owners giving back in unique ways. In 2018, Blake's path crossed with Justin, a City of Easley's public works team member. Their collaboration on a significant project led to a lasting friendship. When Justin reached out for help with JUMPSTART Landscaping, Blake jumped in, vetting the business plan and offering architectural design expertise pro bono. For Blake, life is about more than money; it's about making a difference. He fondly remembers Justin Durrell, JUMPSTART's Director of Operations, for his boundless energy and dedication to growth. Justin's leadership style empowers his team to learn, grow, and take on new challenges. If there's one word to describe Blake's view of JUMPSTART, it's "mission." He believes in their unwavering commitment to serving people, a mission that resonates deeply with his own values. As Blake looks ahead, he envisions an even brighter future for JUMPSTART. He sees the organization expanding its mission to impact West Pelzer and the broader Upstate, particularly Anderson County. In celebrating Blake Sanders, we celebrate a man who knows that people are the heart and soul of any community. His dedication, creativity, and passion for making a difference are the driving forces behind the positive changes in West Pelzer and beyond.
- Valenda Black's Journey with JUMPSTART at Allendale Correctional Institution
My most Cherished Day The sound of heavy metal doors clanging behind me is a testament to God's goodness and grace every Monday. A puzzling statement, you may think. Monday is my cherished day—the day I've pledged to assist incarcerated men in discovering their purpose at Allendale Correctional Institution (ACI). Excitement fills me as I step in, representing JUMPSTART SC (JUMPSTART), a program centered around a 40-week curriculum inspired by Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life." Overview of the Inside Program Beyond the "Purpose Driven Life" itself, participants use a workbook to reflect on each spiritual discipline, and naturally, the Holy Bible stands as the foundational text. I am often asked why I am excited about going to prison. I respond that there is no riper field to share God's love, redemption, forgiveness, and goodness than at this place. Each week, the men in JUMPSTART at ACI share with the entire group of participants their perspective of the week's chapter in Purpose Driven Life and their answers to questions in their workbooks, also referred to as their life books. Scriptures accompany each of the 40 chapters and are integral to the men growing in Christ. Many have asked if I am afraid to go to a prison where men have been convicted of all sorts of crimes. Why should I be afraid? I know I am doing what God would have me do. I know the men we visit weekly (usually around 65) are very protective of volunteers. I feel I am fulfilling a purpose in my life to help these men whom many shun and say there is no hope for to come to know Jesus. My Involvement My story of how I became a volunteer with JUMPSTART at Allendale Correctional Institution is an example of how God works through so many avenues and paths to take us places we never dreamed of going. The year was 2016. Then, Animal Advocates of Barnwell were allowed to bring cats and dogs to the prison to live in dorms with carefully selected men. I was involved with Animal Advocates through my grandson, Nicholas, who had volunteered with that program. At that time, Vikki Scott, president and CEO of Animal Advocates of Barnwell, was director of the MeowMate/MuttMate program at Allendale Correctional Institution. While at the center with Nicholas, she and I would talk about the MeowMate/MuteMate program at ACI, the good it was doing for the men, and how helpful it was for them to have a cat or dog to care for and love. One day, Vikki called me and asked if I would be interested in attending ACI, that volunteers were needed to help with the JUMPSTART program. I told Vikki I had little time because of my husband's illness and other family obligations. The best I could do was visit once a month to help with the class. Little did I know I would be hooked. That call changed my life in so many ways. After that first volunteer experience, I was ready to return to ACI every Monday. ever have I been so welcomed and appreciated as when I walked into the JUMPSTART class. They wanted to change their lives, become better men, and learn how to be productive citizens outside prison walls. These men were so hungry to talk to someone from the outside about their families, prayer requests, and praises. JUMPSTART participants go to classes inside their dorms at ACI each week, studying and preparing for the Monday meeting, where all men in the program from each dorm come together with JUMPSTART leaders and volunteers. Dorm leaders and volunteers facilitate the Monday classes on rotation, with participants sharing their perspectives on that week's curriculum discipline. How to Get Involved How does someone become a volunteer with JUMPSTART? First, they must complete an application required by the SC Department of Corrections and receive training from the prison chaplain. This application covers the rules and regulations needed for volunteers to enter any prison to volunteer with any program volunteers with JUMPSTART must also complete a six-week training program with inside JUMPSTART leaders before volunteering. This training fosters unity between volunteers and leaders, building a solid connection with participants. The training aims to shape individuals into disciples, living by Christ's teachings, whether inside the prison or returning to society after their release. JUMPSTART and its programs aim to help incarcerated men and women find their unique life purpose. I have found my life's purpose that I cannot put into words or even describe what it feels like to see prison inmates' lives transformed to live with a purpose. JUMPSTART SC needs Volunteers JUMPSTART at Allendale Correctional Institution needs volunteers! As of 2023, the JUMPSTART class comprises five dedicated volunteers assisting ten inside leaders, benefitting around 60 class members. More volunteers would create more one-on-one interactions with participants, facilitating deeper connections through listening, encouragement, witnessing, and sharing the essence of God's love. If you're interested in volunteering or need more information about the JUMPSTART program at Allendale Correctional Institution, please reach out at 803-541-5921. Additionally, I can coordinate with JUMPSTART graduates currently affiliated with the program in Spartanburg, SC. They can visit churches, share their transformative experiences, and discuss post-release opportunities offered by JUMPSTART. By: Valenda Black, Inside Program Volunteer JUMPSTART SC
- A Personal Mission: My Journey from South Carolina Prison Director to JUMPSTART Supporter & Donor
I'm Jon Ozmint, and during my time as the Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) from 2003 to 2011, I had the privilege of seeing JUMPSTART begin and ensuring it had opportunities to be effective and grow. My connection with JUMPSTART has had a positive impact on my personal and professional life. What drew me to prison ministry and re-entry programs? At the heart of my support for volunteer programs were two factors. First, chronic underfunding posed a challenge. In the SCDC, we knew that we couldn’t fund sufficient programming, so we tapped into the immense potential of volunteers, ensuring they had both the platform and support to make a tangible difference. Second, while there was no shortage of churches and ministries committed to evangelistic activities, genuine discipleship was what was most needed. I knew that rigorous discipleship, emphasizing real standards and true accountability, would help men and women make effective use of their time in prison and set them up for success after incarceration. Personal Connection: Throughout my tenure, I've experienced both the highs and lows associated with spearheading initiatives like JUMPSTART. JUMPSTART faced challenges early on because of its bottom-up approach of training incarcerated men and women to be leaders of their peers. This approach was innovative in corrections at the time and not everyone was ready to embrace it. Yet over time, most have come to realize that those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution. Often inmate peers will listen to one another before they are ready to listen to those in authority. My journey with JUMPSTART and allied programs such as the Faith and Character Dorms and the Columbia International Seminary Program has proven that structured, accountable programs have the power to transform lives from the inside out. Impact: One event stands out vividly in my memory. At a JUMPSTART annual fundraising banquet, I was reintroduced to Chuck Fields. The courtroom where I once prosecuted him was a far cry from this banquet hall where he now stood as a beacon of transformation. His public gratitude for my role in his journey and his testimony of finding Christ in incarceration was not just a testament to his personal growth, but a shining endorsement of the profound impact JUMPSTART has on its participants. Mission and Vision: Incarcerated individuals often grapple with a "victim mentality," viewing themselves more as casualties than culprits. Many well-meaning advocates, in their eagerness to help, unknowingly perpetuate this mindset. Yet, this mindset doesn’t help men and women take responsibility for their past in a way that they can learn from it, nor does it help them make the most of their future. This is where JUMPSTART sets itself apart. It challenges inmates to face their past head-on, to understand their missteps, and to actively strive for personal growth and integrity through Jesus Christ. Partnership and Growth: While some might see my wife, Luanne, and I as "important donors", we see ourselves differently. We try to give with purpose, looking to support ministries that are faithful to the Gospel, that leverage donor dollars, and that make a clear and measurable impact. With my continued involvement in corrections across the US, I've been in a unique position to witness and advocate for JUMPSTART's growth. Seeing its roots expand from South Carolina to other states has been both a joy and a testament to its effectiveness. For donors who are looking for value and impact, Luanne and I encourage you to consider JUMPSTART's approach. Working inside correctional systems leverages every donor dollar, allowing more donor resources to be used for training and equipping inmates. The results speak volumes. South Carolina’s recidivism rate is now one of the lowest in the nation, with JUMPSTART graduates literally ‘pulling down’ that rate with recidivism numbers well below that state average. We believe in JUMPSTART because it works. We have seen it transform lives, impact prisons, and enable former offenders to live productive, God-honoring lives both inside fences and beyond. By: Jon Ozmint Ozmint Law Firm
- How JUMPSTART Addresses Criminal Thinking & Behaviors
JUMPSTART stands as a beacon in rehabilitative and transformative programming, demonstrating the power of harmonizing faith-based discipleship with the rigors of social science research. At its heart, the program is grounded in the journey toward becoming a mature disciple in Christ, emphasizing the growth, understanding, and responsibilities that accompany such spiritual progression. Yet, JUMPSTART doesn't limit itself to theological exploration alone. It actively integrates the latest findings from social science, ensuring that participants benefit from a holistic blend of spiritual depth and evidence-based insights. This convergence reinforces the idea that the path to discipleship in Christ and the revelations from scientific research are not contradictory but can beautifully amplify each other. Through this article, we dive into the depth of JUMPSTART’s approach, showcasing how it weaves the profound journey of Christian discipleship with the illuminating discoveries of modern social science to forge a transformative path for its participants. Antisocial Beliefs and Values JUMPSTART is meticulously designed to foster self-awareness concerning cognitive distortions frequently identified among incarcerated individuals. As noted by Cullen et al. (2017), these distortions can manifest as exaggerated entitlement senses, misinterpretations of reality, tendencies for self-justification, externalized blame, and distrust toward institutional structures. Such misconceptions can lead to erroneous interpretations of benign behaviors as threatening. Through its programming, JUMPSTART provides tools for participants to detect and rectify these antisocial patterns. Substance Abuse There's a well-established connection between substance abuse and criminal activities (King & Delfabbro, 2019). Although JUMPSTART isn’t exclusively geared towards substance abuse intervention, its significant reductions in recidivism and participant testimonials indicate its potential to curb substance-related criminal behaviors. Emphasizing personal purpose as a transformative tool, the program inspires participants with success stories of those who've navigated the challenges of addiction and criminality. Antisocial Peers Recent research, such as that conducted by Monahan et al. (2020), reinforces the notion that an individual’s peer group significantly influences criminal behavior. When surrounded by peers involved in illicit activities, one's likelihood of participating increases. JUMPSTART educates participants on the profound impact of their social circles, providing strategies for resisting negative influences while fostering positive peer interactions. This is achieved through mechanisms like peer mentorship and community volunteer engagement, creating supportive social networks for participants during and post-incarceration. Family Dysfunction The family's role in shaping early behavior and attitudes is crucial, with contemporary research underscoring its impact on eventual outcomes (Smith et al., 2018). Families marked by dysfunction, substance misuse, and criminal behaviors often instigate harmful behavioral patterns. Recognizing this, JUMPSTART delves deep into these issues, offering holistic solutions for participants to confront and transform these ingrained challenges. If you'd like to discuss any of this further or are interested in having me come and share with a group or team, I'd love to hear from you by email at Cary.Sanders@jumpstartvision.org By: Dr. Cary Sanders, JUMPSTART SC CEO References: Cullen, F. T., Jonson, C. L., & Nagin, D. S. (2017). Prisons do not reduce recidivism: The high cost of ignoring science. The Prison Journal, 97(4), 389-404. King, D. L., & Delfabbro, P. H. (2019). The cognitive psychology of Internet gaming disorder. Clinical Psychology Review, 68, 1-13. Monahan, K. C., King, K. M., Shulman, E. P., Cauffman, E., & Chassin, L. (2020). The effects of violence exposure on the development of impulse control and future orientation across adolescence and early adulthood: Time-specific and generalized effects in a sample of juvenile offenders. Development and Psychopathology, 32(2), 509-521. Smith, C. A., Ireland, T. O., & Thornberry, T. P. (2018). Adolescent maltreatment and its impact on young adult antisocial behavior. Child Abuse & Neglect, 84, 313-322.
- Reducing Homelessness and Crime
Introduction As the prison doors swing open, the challenges awaiting released prisoners often appear insurmountable, none more pressing than securing a stable place to call home. Rooted in a profound sense of community and belonging, JUMPSTART extends a lifeline to individuals teetering on the precipice of homelessness upon their release. Through a comprehensive approach, JUMPSTART is mitigating homelessness and crime head-on, providing solutions backed by research and a fifteen-year track record of results. JUMPSTART’s Role in Reducing Homelessness One of the primary obstacles faced by released prisoners is securing stable housing. JUMPSTART addresses this issue through its holistic transitional ministry. Grounded in creating a sense of community and belonging, JUMPSTART assists individuals in their post-incarceration journey, often serving men and women who would be homeless the day of their release without JUMPSTART. Without housing assistance, it is estimated that approximately 10% of prisoners will experience homelessness as soon as the day of their release (1). Research indicates that most former prisoners reside, at least initially, with family members after release, and a substantial minority also return initially to transitional housing, work release centers, or temporary emergency shelters (2). Obtaining and maintaining a safe place to live is important as researchers consistently find that released prisoners without stable housing are much more likely to return to prison (3). Providing safe and secure housing to returning prisoners is also a critical link to other services such as substance use or mental health treatment and employment (4). The reality of reentry is that at least half of released prisoners return to their old neighborhood or to a similarly disadvantaged community with high crime rates and few services and support systems to promote successful reintegration into the community (5). Dr. Bryon Johnson, who is recognized by many to be a leading scholar on criminal justice reform, says this in his book More God, Less Crime, “Just because an inmate makes a profession of faith does not change the fact that he or she will struggle to find stable employment, acceptable housing, adequate transportation, and supportive family members. Because of these and other reentry difficulties, it is only a matter of time before many ex-prisoners return to prison" (6). Over the past eight years, over 200 men and women have completed the inside and outside phases of JUMPSTART and are living as examples of God’s ability to rescue and restore. Providing safe and affordable housing and all of the wrap-around services mentioned thus far are foundational for these successful outcomes. More than a few from the program have even become the first person in their immediate family to become homeowners! JUMPSTART’s Impact on Crime Reduction JUMPSTART’s continuum of care approach targets recidivism at its roots. By providing comprehensive support during and after imprisonment, JUMPSTART helps ex-offenders avoid returning to crime, ultimately improving public safety. JUMPSTART cultivates spiritual and personal transformation within prisons, targeting the root causes of criminal behavior. This proactive approach aims to deter individuals from reoffending and fosters a commitment to personal growth. In addition to these spiritual programs, JUMPSTART offers holistic reentry services, mental health services, substance abuse programs, employment resources, and life skills training. These services empower ex-offenders with the skills needed to reintegrate successfully into society and significantly reduce the likelihood of reoffending. The Efficacy of JUMPSTART’s Approach: A Research Perspective Multiple studies validate the effectiveness of organizations like JUMPSTART. For instance, the Pew Center on the States' report found that states offering comprehensive reentry programs experienced a substantial decrease in recidivism rates compared to those without such programs (Pew Center on the States, 2011). Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation suggested that programs grounded in spirituality considerably reduced the risk of ex-prisoners reoffending (Johnson, 2019). These findings are mirrored in JUMPSTART’s impressive success rates, with the organization reporting decreased recidivism rates and increased societal reintegration success among its program participants. Conclusion JUMPSTART demonstrates the power of an integrated, comprehensive approach to prisoner rehabilitation and reentry. By addressing ex-offenders' spiritual, emotional, and practical needs, the organization mitigates homelessness and reduces recidivism rates. JUMPSTART’s work is a testament to the old adage, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." JUMPSTART doesn't merely offer temporary fixes but provides ex-offenders with the support and tools they need to build sustainable, crime-free lives after release. JUMPSTART's work contributes to creating a safer, more compassionate society, offering a beacon of hope for those affected by incarceration. If you want to help reduce homeless and crime and provide men and women with transformational opportunities in South Carolina, I'd encourage you to learn more about Restoration Village - a neighborhood where love, accountability, and transformational opportunities are the standard. You can learn more here. Written by: Dr. Cary Sanders on August 15, 2023 References: (1) Greg A. Greenberg, and Robert A. Rosenheck, “Homelessness in the state and federal prison population” Criminal Justice and Mental Health, (2008): 88–103. (2) Valerie A. Clark, The Effect of Community Context and Post-Release Housing Placements on Recidivism. (St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Corrections: 2015). (3) Benjamin Steiner, Matthew D. Makarios, and Lawrence F. Travis, “Examining the effects of residential situations and residential mobility on offender recidivism,” Crime & Delinquency, 61 (2015): 375–401. (4) Caterina G. Roman, and Jeremy Travis, “Where will I sleep tomorrow? Housing, homelessness, and the returning prisoner.” Housing Policy Debate, 17 (2015): 389–418. (5) Jeremy Travis, Bruce Western, and Steve Redburn (eds.), The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2011), 23. (6) Byron R. Johnson, “The Faith Factor and Prisoner Reentry.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 4 (January): 1–21.