Archive for the ‘Servant Leadership’ Category

Class 20 graduate Mark L., a.k.a. "Sweet Homey the Clown"!

Class 20 graduate Mark L., a.k.a. “Sweet Homey the Clown”!

We have a very special “welcome home” post today!

Mark L. has been in prison since 10/1/1994 … and was released today. 20 years, 1 month, 13 days later.

This Class 20 graduate was actually granted parole earlier, but he **declined** it and opted to stay in prison. Why?

Because Mark had been chosen as one of 10 servant leaders (prior PEP graduates) to transfer to a new prison to help us launch a new program near Dallas, Texas. Mark “had a job to do and wanted to see it through to the end.” Read more about this here; Mark is also pictured below.

Thanks to Mark’s servant leadership, around 40 other inmates recently completed this new program in PEP. And today … after 7,349 days behind bars … Mark is free at last.

Welcome home, “Sweet Homey the Clown”!

PEP Graduate Servant Leaders at Estes Unit

Pictured with the other servant leaders who followed this call to open a new program, Mark L. is on the front row, bottom right,


Read similar testimonials from other graduates here.

PEP Graduate Servant Leaders at Estes Unit
These ten men in white graduated from PEP’s Business Plan Competition at the Cleveland Correctional Center. When we announced that PEP was expanding to a second prison in North Texas, they courageously offered to transfer to the new unit to begin building PEP’s culture of life transformation.These Servant Leaders went from being among 300+ PEP guys on a 520-man unit to being the only 10 PEP guys on a 1,040-man unit.

And yet, with their help, we are rapidly spreading our impact across the prison. We already have 40+ other inmates recruited into PEP’s new Leadership Academy … and we anticipate many more over the coming years.

Please join us in thanking these amazing Servant Leaders!

NOTE: Standing behind them is Gami Jasso, our sole staff member at the new unit. Also… this photo was taken by Israel Thompson, who later blogged about the experience here.


PEP graduates after speaking at YES Prep

PEP graduates after speaking at YES Prep

Last week, several PEP graduates were invited to speak to the students of YES Prep in Houston. To the right is a photo of the graduates after the presentation and below are photos of the graduates in action!

The following comes from the school’s Web site:

Since we opened our doors in 1998, YES Prep has continuously redefined possible for students, families and the public education system at large. Our students are currently graduating from college at four times the rate of their peers. Today, with 13 schools in operation, serving 8,000 students throughout Houston, YES Prep is living proof that different outcomes are possible when students from low-income communities are given access to high-quality educational opportunities.

Our graduates shared their life stories and offered these young people practical advice on how to release their potential.

As we shared in this blog last week, our graduates also recently spoke at the Teach for America Summit in Houston. Many of our graduates have a deep understanding of the issues that Houston’s public school students confront on a daily basis. Some even attended public school in the Houston area, so they truly know what it means to grow up in these communities.

More importantly, having been to prison, they have seen what happens when these students succumb to the negative influences around them. Our graduates can frequently share stories of how they were first arrested as children, so their testimonies can make a tremendous impact on these young people.

However, this is not a “scared straight” program.

We do not seek to change young people’s minds through tragic stories about the negative impact of drugs and crime. They have heard these before: in fact, many of our graduates grew up in families where at least one parent was in jail or in prison. Fear of going to prison did not prevent them from pursuing crime.

Rather, we believe that introducing positive male role models into these students’ lives is critical for their long-term success.

Why do we believe this?

Nearly half of PEP’s recent graduates grew up without a father in their home. While this does not excuse their crimes, it helps us to understand what contributed to their negative choices.

When they enter these schools, our graduates are modeling what it means to be a truly successful man. By sharing how they are able to earn a decent living, take care of their families and even launch their own businesses, our graduates show these students genuine alternatives to lives of crime (which are unfortunately seen in far too positive a light within many of the communities where these children live).

This effort also makes a tremendous impact on our graduates’ themselves. As we shared towards the end of last week’s blog, allowing our graduates to assert a new identity as role models helps them to deepen their own commitment to living a transformed life.

At PEP, one of our main goals is to inspire our graduates to do more than simply “repay their debt to society.” We encourage them to become lifelong givers, and these men pictured below are tremendous examples of PEP’s driving values of love, servant leadership and wise stewardship.

If you would like to bring PEP graduates to speak to your community, please contact us today.

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One of our Class 11 graduates lost his job last week. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, what did he do?

He came by the PEP office and donated $100. He wanted us to know how much he appreciated what PEP had done to change his life.

May each of us find such gratitude when faced with hardships!

Class 11's Coat of Arms

Class 11’s Coat of Arms

David R, Class 18 Graduate

David R, Class 18 Graduate

One of PEP’s Ten Driving Values is “Servant Leadership Mentality.”

This idea is broadly discussed in all sorts of arenas … from prisons to corporate boardrooms. But the concept can be hard to understand without models. Thankfully, during their time in PEP, our participants meet hundreds of servant leaders who model this for them by attending PEP’s monthly in-prison events.

But this is not just about our volunteers.

In fact, while we love and appreciate our volunteers, the daily operations of our program simply could not function without the tremendous contributions of the incarcerated men who serve as our Servant Leaders. These are past graduates of PEP who return to our program every day to help with classes, to serve as peer educators, to support our events and to ensure that PEP can serve nearly 300 incarcerated men while having only a single staff member working in the prison each day.

Servant leadership is not just about giving a day of service, or living humbly; it is about radically transforming your core being so that everything that you do is in the service of others. This is a core identity that remains with our graduates after they are released.

Here is a great example of that. Last night, one of our Class 18 graduates, David R, posted the following note in his community:

If you or anyone you know in Amarillo have been incarcerated and have had trouble finding a job, developing a resume or gaining a better understanding of how to change their cognitive behavior, please message me with serious prospects only. I will only help those who want to help themselves. I have a certificate of Entrepreneurship from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. Also, I have presented a business plan to multiple business executives. As well as completing Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. I want to help anyone I can with the skills have learned through PEP.”

Now THIS is what you call ‪Servant Leadership‬, people. David only returned to his home in Amarillo, where he is now raising his amazing son. He has a full-time job and plenty of things on his plate … but here he is, offering to help complete strangers to transform their lives.

We are very proud to call David our friend and PEP brother. With your continued support, we will be able to help many more men follow his path! Please support us at

Salah Boukadoum

Salah Boukadoum

Wise advice from our friend Salah Boukadoum, CEO of Soap Hope, for our soon-to-be-graduates of Class 19 … (a strong fit with one PEP’s 10 Driving Values … ‘servant leadership mentality’):

We all want our lives to be meaningful, and many people spend their lives searching for meaning in money, glory, fame, respect, or experiences … not realizing that a meaningful life is simple to achieve. If you serve others by empowering those who are in need, your life will be meaningful.

I recommend to all entrepreneurs, to think -and act – every day not only on how your business can make money and serve you and your family – but also how your business can serve those who are less fortunate than you. I promise you, if you do this every day, your business will be transformed for you, your customers, your employees, and for those who you serve, and your business will bring true meaning to your life.

Scott W PEP

Scott sharing his story

One of PEP’s 10 Driving Values is Servant Leadership. We believe that the success of our program is not achieved at graduation, but is lived out through the lives of our graduates every single day after they are released.

Recently, several of our past participants were able to demonstrate this principle to a group of 150 eighth graders at Hogg Middle School in Houston, Texas. The group included PEP’s Patrick McGee as well a graduates Scott Wesley and Greg P. These three men spoke to these middle school students about what led them into prison and how their lives have changed since they were released.

You can see photos from the event here: