Journal Entry 

 Community Connections 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Community Connections: Building Bridges Back to Society

In the journey of life, some paths are more challenging than others. For individuals returning to society after incarceration, the road can be particularly daunting. Yet, it is also a road that can lead to remarkable transformations and profound community connections. As the founder of Prison Professors Talent and a person who has navigated the complexities of reentry, I have seen the power of building bridges back to society. Our course, “Preparing for Success after Prison,” is designed to support this crucial phase of reintegration.

The Power of Community Engagement

Community engagement is not just about finding support; it’s about creating a sense of belonging and purpose. Consider the story of Topika Sams. Her story of success after prison inspires me, as she shows an excellent example of a person who can achieve monumental real-life success after prison. The Bureau of Prisons even featured Topeka on the home page of the agency’s website.

After her release, Topika faced numerous challenges. However, she turned her struggles into a catalyst for change by launching a nonprofit aimed at supporting others in their post-prison journey. Her organization provides mentorship, housing, job training, and emotional support, helping many to find their footing in society. I spoke with her about her progress and she cited the preparations she made in prison as the reason she was able to raise more than $4 million from leading citizens to build her nonprofit.

Building Your Bridge

  1.  Identify Your Passion:
    • What drives you? Like Topika, find something you are passionate about. It could be helping others, a specific trade, or a cause close to your heart.
  2. Engage with the Community:
    • Start small. Volunteer, join local groups, or participate in community events. These activities not only build your network but also strengthen your sense of belonging.
  3.  Leverage Your Experience:
    • Your journey is unique and valuable. Use your experiences to empathize, educate, and empower others who might be facing similar challenges.
  4. Seek Partnerships:
    • Collaborate with other organizations or individuals who share your vision. Partnerships can provide additional resources and amplify your impact.

Your Task: Share Your Story

As you embark on this journey, I encourage you to document and share your experiences. Write about the connections you’re making, the challenges you’re overcoming, and the impact you’re having. Share your story with us at [email protected]. If you include “Request a Book” in the subject line, we will donate a book from our resources, such as “Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Sentence” or “Success after Prison,” to aid in your journey.

Join the Movement

Your efforts to build bridges back to society are not just about your personal success; they contribute to a larger narrative of hope and transformation. Through our course, “Preparing for Success after Prison,” we provide tools and strategies to support you in this endeavor. Together, let’s forge a future where past experiences become the foundation for a thriving community.


Michael Santos

Founder, Prison Professors Talent

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