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Helping Our Prisoners Elevate

Home | About Us | Get on the Bus | Malcolm X | Getting Involved | Spreading HOPE | Political Prisoners and P.O.W.s | Contact Us

Our Work


Helping Our Prisoners Elevate is a grassroots, volunteer-based prisoner outreach organization whose motto is “Bridging the gap between the Captives and the Community.” Founded in September 2000 -- by a small group of former prisoners, prisoner advocates, parents and wives of prisoners, journalists, teachers, lawyers, and community activists -- our primary work centered on sending books of a transformative and an uplifting value to men and women that were incarcerated in state and federal prisons.


Initially collecting donated books from the community, it was determined that the quality of the content did not meet the criteria H.O.P.E. had established. Moreover, within Michigan state prisons, used books could not be sent to individual prisoners but were instead donated to prison libraries. Therefore, efforts shifted to raise money to purchase new books so that outreach could impact individual prisoners.

More than a thousand books were sent into Michigan state prisons before a growing number of prison mailroom rejections led H.O.P.E. to temporarily suspend its books-to-prisoners program until the organization could fulfill its work without prejudiced impediments. Many books were rejected arbitrarily due to biased, rural-based prison mailroom clerks who regarded Black cultural and political content as inflammatory. H.O.P.E. has continued to reach out to MDOC officials and state representatives towards overcoming this problem.

Keeping Families Together


Over the course of H.O.P.E.’s development and involvement in the community, it has expanded its programming to include outreach to the families of the incarcerated with its “Prison Parenting Program.” As part of this initiative, H.O.P.E. successfully transported several Detroit families to visit their loved ones incarcerated in Ionia, Michigan, in December 2003. Since then, H.O.P.E. has transported numerous families at no cost to prisons in Jackson, Muskegon, Carson City, and again to Ionia. Our most ambitious effort at family reunification was achieved with two overnight bus-filled trips to the Upper Peninsula to the prisons in Kincheloe.

Spreading Hope


Ensuring that the community is informed of H.O.P.E.’s efforts, we publish a quarterly newsletter Spreading HOPE, which is distributed free throughout community and is sent to prisoners. Additionally, H.O.P.E. published Coming Home: A Reentry Manual for Released Prisoners, which offers guidance and resource information to newly released prisoners.


At the beginning of 2004, H.O.P.E. earned a seat on the Wayne County Community Corrections Advisory Board, in which capacity it represents a community voice in the policymaking of corrections initiatives in Wayne County. During 2004, H.O.P.E. also conducted two educational courses to men incarcerated at the Dickerson Detention Facility. One class focused on Afrikan history, from the past to present, and the other explored multiple disciplines in a focus on reading, writing and critical thinking.


H.O.P.E. outreach has connected directly with prisoners as members have participated in prisoner-led programming at several prisons, including Macomb Correctional, Mound Correctional, Ryan Correctional, Carson City Correctional, and the Richard Handlon Michigan Training Unit.


Understanding that the success of its efforts requires wide-reaching community support, H.O.P.E. has organized several events – including telethons, cultural extravaganzas, and a natural hair show -- that served to generate needed funds and to inform the public about its work in specific and the crisis with the criminal injustice system in general. To date, most of H.O.P.E.’s operating revenue has derived from the generosity and support of the Black community.


In 2005, H.O.P.E. had obtained its 5013 nonprofit status. In January 2006, H.O.P.E. was bestowed a grant from Wayne County’s children and Family Services to help fulfill its community work.

Healing Our Community

In 2007, H.O.P.E. is intensifying its community programming through its Highland Park Project. Through collaborative efforts with existing Highland Park organizations and city government, the organization is planning a range of outreach activities that are geared to providing support to the children and families of prisoners, and to providing preventive outreach to Highland Park youth.

Black Star - K.O.S. (Determination)

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Copyright 2007, Helping Prisoners Elevate