What if we could help people who have been released from prison actually stay out of prison? That’s exactly what Drive Change is working hard to accomplish.
Jordyn Lexton, Drive Change’s founder, used to teach high school English to incarcerated 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds — all of whom were convicted as adults — at Rikers Island in New York. When she saw how bleak the future looked for them once they were released from prison, she decided to do something about it. She left teaching behind and started the nonprofit.
What makes the organization special is that it hires formerly incarcerated youth to operate the trucks, giving them an opportunity to earn money and gain job skills. Both of these things help keep people who have been incarcerated from returning to prison.
The Snowday food truck, Drive Change’s first, makes $15,000 a month.
The profits are put right back into Drive Change, which hopes to expand its operations to help more people. Drive Change’s eight employees, all of whom start at $11 an hour, operate the truck, selling food inspired by maple syrup.
“Our plan is hopefully to make this a national model … because unfortunately, there is not a shortage of formerly incarcerated youth across the country.” — Drive Change head chef Roy Waterman
The U.S. has the highest percentage of its population incarcerated in the developed world.That’s a daunting fact. Department of Justice statistics show that over 75% of people who are released from prison end up right back there within five years.
In New York, 16- and 17-year-olds are automatically sentenced as adults. 70% of NYC teens reoffend within three years of release.
And this is exactly why programs such as Drive Change are so important. Imagine how much that 70% figure could be reduced by offering them job opportunities, skills, and hope.
You can watch this video to see how Drive Change is making a difference.
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