Journal Entry 

 Structure Nonprofits 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Today I begin the process of hiring a lawyer who can provide solutions that will help with our nonprofit’s structure. I need professional guidance that will likely require me to invest several thousand dollars. It’s a precaution against the potential for future problems.

The problems we must solve today differ from the problems we faced yesterday. And the problems we anticipate facing tomorrow will require different solutions than what we’re building today. We can expect this pattern to continue throughout our life. For that reason, we must always prepare.

Our course, Preparing for Success after Prison, offers a simple 10-point strategy we can use as a framework to build these solutions. For those who need a refresher, we must:

  1. Define success,
  2. Set goals,
  3. Make a 100% commitment,
  4. Aspire to something better than what we have today,
  5. Act in ways that will advance our agenda,
  6. Measure progress with clear accountability metrics,
  7. Stay aware of opportunities and build alliances with others who are aware of our commitment,
  8. Show authenticity by creating tools, tactics, and resources,
  9. Celebrate the little achievements, and
  10. Live in gratitude and appreciation for the blessings we receive.

The ten-point framework helped me through 26 years in prison, and it helped me during my first ten years of liberty. As I work to expand our mission further, I need to ensure that I comply with all state and federal laws governing nonprofit organizations.

We began the Prison Professors Charitable Corporation to fulfill our mission of helping justice-impacted people. Since we’re reaching more than 300,000 people in jails and prisons across America, we’re getting more requests for content. People want self-directed courses and books to teach them strategies to prepare for success upon release.

Fulfilling all the requests we receive would cost millions of dollars. We build coalitions of business leaders and individuals who share our vision to raise those resources. Since I am the author of the books and courses, and the company I own is the largest single funder, I need to ensure that we comply with all state and federal laws.

When I launched the nonprofit, we initially anticipated having a relatively small budget. We expected to donate approximately $50,000 worth of books each year. Since then, we’ve increased the services we offer. To build our new website, Prison Professors Talent, we’ve invested more than $50,000 and will continue to invest. 

These investments advance our mission of improving outcomes of America’s criminal justice system. We’re striving to change policies and laws to incentivize excellence. If people know that they can earn higher levels of liberty by preparing for success, we will lower intergenerational cycles of recidivism.

We need more resources to accomplish this goal. My company will continue supporting this effort because it’s my ministry. Yet I also have a duty of anticipating problems. As we grow, and deploy millions of dollars toward the effort, I’ve got to make sure that our policies comply with the law.

Participants in our course can learn from this lesson. Although we may feel as if we’re in control of our life today, we’ve got to prepare to solve problems for tomorrow.

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