Serving Children of Prisoners Through Passion, Purpose, and Perseverance

Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr.Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr. is being honored as a Champion of Change for his dedication to the well-being of children of incarcerated parents.

The last 13 years have been a journey. I put my energy and creative leadership into an effort to rescue children of prisoners. For in a real sense I saw myself in all of these children. I, too, am the son of an incarcerated parent and I have felt an obligation to work on behalf of this invisible population. And I believe the route of my earlier journey—in public service as chairman of the Public Utility Commission, managing director of the City of Philadelphia and then a two-term mayor—prepared me to lead Amachi to success.

All I really wanted to do was to help these children. So I worked tirelessly the first two years of the program to ensure that we succeeded in Philadelphia. Soon Amachi became a national movement replicated in every state with the creation of at least 350 Amachi-modeled programs that have served more than 300,000 youth.

What began as a partnership between faith-based organizations which provided the children and administrative oversight, now has expanded to include volunteer mentors from all sources. The Amachi program (now Amachi, Inc.) has expanded the population of youth it serves as well. Amachi provides training and technical assistance to mentoring programs who serve children impacted by incarceration, high-risk youth, and youth from military families.

In 2012 Amachi completed a three-year $17.8M grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to develop statewide mentoring coalitions in 38 states through September 30, 2012. At the completion of the project, Amachi met or exceeded all of its goals with the creation of 18,287 matches, 1,107 partnerships, 38 statewide coalitions, and 259.70 FTEs. In addition, in 2011 Amachi received a three-year $3.0M grant from OJJDP to enhance and expand mentoring services to at risk youth, including youth from military families and those impacted by incarceration.

Amachi has developed an effective intermediary model. The organization receives federal, state, and private grant funding, and works with subgrantees to carry out the work. The contracts with these subgroups permit Amachi to hold each group accountable for the deliverables. If the subgroup fails to produce at the level agreed to, contracts can be decreased so that the group can work at a more comfortable level. This model has proven to be an effective practice that has resulted in overall success for the program.

Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., is President of Amachi, Inc., a non-profit headquartered in Philadelphia, PA that is dedicated to providing training and technical assistance to mentoring programs nationwide with a focus on those who serve children impacted by incarceration, high-risk youth, and youth from military families.

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