August 23, 2023

Trinidad College Graduation at Colorado State Penitentiary

I had an incredible morning. It started with a glorious cool morning run with Sadie, which was certainly lovely. But when I got home, before I started work, was the best part of my day: I hosted a watch party to livestream several of my friends from Colorado State Penitentiary graduating cum laude from Trinidad State College. What an incredible, against-the-odds accomplishment with all the barriers they faced completing the curriculum while in a level 5 maximum security prison! 🎉

Also, what a special treat to be able to watch this on a livestream – this kind of out-of-prison contact with my friends is unprecedented!

I recorded the graduation, which you can watch here. At the very least, watch the first 15 minutes for an emotional and inspiring keynote speech from my friend Rob, who is serving life in prison without parole. Rob dreams of being a motivational speaker and sharing his own story to help others, but opportunities to spread his message outside of prison are few; I would love to help him reach more people.

Rob’s speech made me tear up even as it inspired me. Growing up, Rob said that he didn’t know anyone personally who had graduated college; he thought the most he could achieve was maybe graduating high school. Now, he’s got his associate’s degree, and is fully committed to getting his bachelor’s degree, then his master’s, and hopefully even a PhD. Rob’s attitude is truly remarkable. Rather than sitting around while he serves his sentence, he says, “what else can I do but strive to become the best version of myself? Education transforms people who were a burden on society to those who make a difference in society.” 💕

I feel so privileged to get to know Rob, Perry, Fred, and many others through Breakthrough Colorado. These guys have proven themselves to be hard workers who focus on striving no matter what the circumstances, and I love getting to work with them on personal growth and business and entrepreneurship skills through Breakthrough. 

It costs the state of Colorado $47,000 to incarcerate one person for one year. Conversely, it costs Breakthrough $3,100 to sponsor one participant for the eight-month in-facility program. And while 54% of those released from prison in Colorado will find themselves back behind bars in three years, those who graduate the Breakthrough program have a recidivism rate of just 4.9% – and for participants who engage in Breakthrough’s post-release support program, that rate drops to ZERO. The ROI is clear, and that’s the power of transformational change.

So I’ll end this with an ask borrowed from Rob’s speech: support human potential, human change, and human growth, and donate to Breakthrough. Or, if you’re in Colorado, sign up to join me for a day in prison to meet these inspirational guys! Help them know that there’s a whole community of us who believe that who you were yesterday isn’t who you have to be tomorrow, and that we all have the capacity to become the best version of ourselves.

Congratulations to Trinidad State College class of 2023!!


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