A Letter from our Chairman & CEO.
As I reflect on the first half of 2022, I am excited to share a handful of ways that Concordance has positively impacted our participants. We often talk about the ripple effect that occurs when we put healing first. I am humbled to share the experiences of participants Michael, Cierra, and Trent with you, and the distinct ways that Concordance has not only influenced their lives, but also their relationships, and the trajectory of their individual journeys.
It is because of your generous support that Concordance has enrolled over 1,200 participants in our program and has lowered the rate of reincarceration by 56% among participants who have released from prison in the last three years. None of these achievements would be possible without your belief in our mission and your dedication to achieving racial equity in our communities. I am thrilled to continue this important work as we move forward, together.
Thank you for walking alongside us on this journey!
Chairman & CEO
I learned many new things about myself through Concordance. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being persistent.Cierra
Cierra, Class 30
Cierra grew up with big dreams. While she lost her father as a teen, her mother has always been her rock and helped her to stay grounded. With her older siblings being much older than her, Cierra grew up feeling like an only child and led a somewhat sheltered life.
While she excelled in school, Cierra was introduced to and started experimenting with marijuana freshman year of high school. Cierra says she wasn’t prepared to deal with these new experiences, pressures, and consequences. She eventually got suspended from school and moved to a different school district. There, she was able to attend outside technical schooling in addition to regular classes. While Cierra felt like she was finally on the right path, she continued using to stay connected to many of the people at her old school who were not good influences on her life.
Cierra graduated from high school, but she couldn’t break free of the negative relationships in her life. A series of confrontations with an old acquaintance escalated into violence and led her to serve almost 9 years in prison for assault.
It was during her time in prison that Cierra reflected on the shame she felt for allowing the influence of others, coupled with her own decision making, to impact her dreams. When she heard about Concordance, she knew the program would transform her life by helping her turn her shame into motivation to strive for better and fulfill her life’s purpose.
Cierra said, “I value Concordance for providing a structured environment. The Concordance Center and my support team keep me focused. Having a consistent schedule, having people who care about me – it’s exactly what I need to be able to achieve my goals.”
Through the Concordance program, Cierra has learned valuable life skills such as setting boundaries, effective communication skills, and being persistent, allowing her to pursue her dream of owning her own business. She has leveraged these skills to make a positive change in her life and plans to use her talents and her compassion to inspire other women who have gone through similar situations.
Now, she has gained the confidence to step out of her comfort zone and take advantage of the many opportunities presented to her. Cierra has once again found her ambition and is empowered. She is excited to work towards achieving her original dreams and motivated to achieve even more!
“I had a lot of pain in my past, but what I’ve discovered here is that I can use my pain for good,” said Cierra. “I learned many new things about myself through Concordance. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being persistent.”
The amount of support and encouragement I’ve received from my family because of the Concordance program has surprised me and makes me focus on growing even more.Trent
Trent, Class 29
Growing up in North County as the middle of three kids, Trent’s parents divorced when he was seven years old. He primarily lived with his mom who worked a lot of long hours as a nurse to support him and his sisters. The lack of support, supervision, and security he experienced led to a childhood of constant trouble, gradually escalating throughout his life.
Trent has struggled with sobriety since he was 10 years old. Shortly after his parents’ divorce, Trent started stealing from his mom and began to drink. He eventually dropped out of school, started hanging out with kids who were much older than him, and going to house parties almost every night. He began smoking marijuana and taking pills that he would steal from his mom. His stealing escalated, eventually leading Trent to break into cars, garages, and homes. The rush of stealing and the money it provided led him to start selling drugs at just 12 years old.
Trent has spent the past 24 years in and out of jail, treatment centers, and prison. Each time, he told himself he was going to do better for himself and for his family, but every time he went home, he could not maintain that commitment. Of the 13 different substance use and re-entry programs Trent has participated in, Concordance is the only program that has worked for him.
“As soon as I got to Concordance, it was welcoming, inviting, and positive,” Trent said, “I not only feel supported when I make mistakes, but I feel comfortable seeking support…even when I know I’m wrong. This is the first time in my life where I feel like I have enough support to do better, and I don’t want to look back.”
Since enrolling in Concordance, Trent has continued to reach his goals and achieve more than he thought was possible. After only six weeks of part-time employment through the Concordance Employment Agency, Trent is already training to become a supervisor with one of Concordance’s hiring partners.
Trent has learned new communication skills and addressed the barriers that have been holding him back from having meaningful relationships with his family. He has worked hard to rebuild his relationships with his family, and he has earned their trust as well. Trent is still getting used to the feeling of his family telling him they’re proud, something that he’s never heard before, and looks forward to reaching his goals with their support.
“I am able to be more open with my family now,” said Trent, “The amount of support and encouragement I’ve received from my family because of the Concordance program has surprised me and makes me focus on growing even more. I am so proud to finally see my family enthusiastic about my future.”
I want to build up my community, not only through connections and resources, but through kindness, compassion, and love.Michael
Michael, Class 30
Michael was born and raised in St. Louis by his loving mother who instilled him with values and respect for those around him. When he was 12 years old, his mom unexpectedly left, placing him with his aunt who had seven children of her own. The instability of his home life and seeing his cousins go in and out of prison led him to seek out stability on the streets. This lifestyle landed him in prison at just 16 years old. After spending 33 years in prison, Michael chose Concordance to support him with his personal growth because he knew that Concordance would provide him with the structure and consistency he needed to be successful.
At Concordance, Michael has found a safe space to thrive. “I come here, and I never want to leave,” he says. “The people here have inspired me to be a better person — they hold me accountable and have helped me change my perspective about my future,” he says. Now Michael feels ready to serve others. “I want to build up my community, not only through connections and resources, but through kindness, compassion, and love – everyone deserves those things.”
Michael has long term goals to redefine the way society views justice-involved individuals – by creating a podcast shedding light on the complexities of their journeys. By sharing the stories of his community through poetry, music, and podcasts, Michael plans to bring his vision of helping others to light. He wants to show society that you can’t place everybody in a box; anyone can find the power within themselves to be successful, despite their past.
Michael is grateful to Concordance for providing the support he needs in his own journey. He measures his success, not by comparing himself to others, but by the impact he creates for himself and those around him. When asked about his most valuable takeaway, Michael said, “despite how much good you do, you can always do better.”