LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Success Pods

Founded in 2014 by Black, feminist men at Soledad Prison, Success Stories Program (SSP) is an alternative to punishment. Through formerly incarcerated, peer led anti-patriarchal workshops and circles that invite individual accountability and integrity, we will co-create safer communities without prisons. SSP's "Success Pods" will be a network of healing and radical transformation for over 120 Angelenos, who have caused harm, and their loved ones.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Opportunities for People Who Have Been Incarcerated

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

"Patriarchy is the biggest hindrance to our success. We all had these great dreams when we were little kids...I'm willing to assert that everybody put the patriarchal expectations that the world had on us before our own goals." Richie Reseda, Co-founder Patriarchy is at the root of violence (gun, intimate partner, gang, etc.) and the carceral response to it. Buying into the societal model of masculinity, being emotionless, physically domineering, accumulating wealth and objectifying women, is a risk factor -exacerbated by systemic racism and limited mental health resources - for causing harm and being incarcerated for it. Those returning home from incarceration lack peer-led, and shame free environments to be vulnerable and reflect on the root cause of their maladaptive beliefs and behaviors. This is a substantial and frequently overlooked risk for recidivism (rate around 50%) as a lack of emotional support often leads to continued cycles of interpersonal and communal violence.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

"Success Pods" is a two-part, life-long network of people committed to breaking intergenerational cycles of violence. The initial 12-weeks (SSP101) takes participants through a curriculum to unlearn the ways in which patriarchy is perpetuated and internalized. Participants get clear on their Top 5 most important people and goals and reflect on whether or not their actions are in service of those. This is delivered by current graduates who are formerly incarcerated, survivors of violence, and people who have caused harm. SSP 201 is a cultural organizing model in which alumni join peer pods/circles where they continue the conversation on how to embody behaviors and beliefs learned in SSP 101, practice accountability in real time and co-create toolkits based on areas of continued support identified within pods.This lifelong network is a community of people who can respond to crises like physical violence, signs of unhealthy relationships, trauma responses like drug and alcohol with skills rooted in accountability and not punishment and fear. In addition to collecting quantitative data throughout, we will have a focus group at the end of the grant period in order to understand how SSP 101 and SSP 201 are allowing participants and their loved ones to relate to each other and notions of community safety differently than prior to going through the program.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Los Angeles is one of the most carceral jurisdictions in one of the most carceral states in the most carceral country in the world. LA is also entrenched with gun and gang violence. Our vision for this project and our work overall is to model ways in which we can address harm without perpetuating the trauma and oppression of punishment systems like prison. "Success Pods" will be one of many proofs of concept. Each person's engagement in countering patriarchal norms has ripple effects within their families, friend circles, places of work and worship. In prison, where violence is currency, our participants, members of rival gangs, walk the yard together, break bread together. We envision this radical shift across the county. By offering collective care and healing for both those harmed as well as those who have caused harm, we create safer communities that use accountability not punishment to sustain long-term transformation.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Initial assessments were limited because from 2014-2019 we were operating in a prison but graduation rates, attendance and feedback sessions were collected. In 2021, SSP hired the Marginalia Research Group, to develop and implement a longitudinal quantitative and qualitative evaluation. Their intensive site study in early 2022, which included observation and interviews, demonstrated positive impact on participants in terms of relatability, vulnerability and perceptions of meaningful personal change. A second study at another site entailed two-way t-test analysis of participant surveys using previously validated measures of self- efficacy (Tsai et al 2013) and confidence (Heatherton and Polivy (1991). These demonstrated statistically significant increases in accountability, taking responsibility for choices, as well as acting congruently with inner self and values. The researchers also found that participants are engaging "new concepts of masculinity in healthy and productive ways."

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 120

Indirect Impact: 1,200