how we started
Changing Perceptions was conceived by Will Avila, a returning citizen who was sentenced to adult-incarceration at the age of 16 years, and spent 10 years in-and-out of prison, struggling to transition back into the community.
Will, like so many other returning citizens, experienced first-hand the challenges—and rejections—that came with transitioning back into society and the workforce. Finally, in 2014 he decided to start a for-profit business, Clean Decisions (commercial kitchen cleaning and general labor services.)
Will dreamt of helping employ returning citizens—people like him—who longed for an opportunity to prove to society they are worth investing in.
Clean Decisions has successfully provided full- and part-time employment to over 30 people, and they have a 100% anti-recidivism rate. However, in addition to employment, what the year highlighted was the desperate need for therapeutic and supportive services. Returning citizens not only struggle to find employment, but they also need training and counseling to help them successfully transition back into contributing members of society.
Thus emerged Changing Perceptions.
The Nuts and Bolts
what we do
Changing Perceptions is a non-profit organization that supports previously incarcerated citizens as they re-enter communities throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Our organizational model is client-centered, proven effective and successful, and focused on initiating and expanding public-private partnerships for the development and implementation of strategies that address barriers to reentry.
Each participant at Changing Perceptions receives individualized services and is supported in a family-like atmosphere which fosters care, growth, and inspires positive expectations.
Changing Perceptions is creating innovative solutions to the most significant barrier for many re-entrants: housing. Our organization currently uses one house that serves as a central location for our current re-entrants. Yet, this location is more than just a residence; it is a support network that itself is a critical component of reducing recidivism. Based on its overwhelming success, we are currently working to partner with multiple housing developers.
Changing Perceptions also offers workforce development training and education courses, in conjunction with civic-minded, local businesses who have partnered with us. Additionally, we offer entrepreneurial training in industries with the most demonstrable potential to recover, grow, and hire in the post-global pandemic era.
SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM
DIRECTOR OF RE-ENTRY SERVICES
helping to guide
what our mentors do
Changing Perceptions employs a Mentor-Mentee relationship-oriented platform that offers support and guidance for new re-entrants.
Every peer mentor has personally and previously experienced incarceration – and the challenges associated with navigating re-entry into their communities. They are living examples of successful reintegration, provide one-to-one mentorship with participants, and offer life stabilizing encouragement on a consistent basis.
Our peer mentors help participants set and reach personal, physical, mental health, financial and professional goals. Peer mentors work hand-in-hand with Changing Perceptions leadership, engage appropriately with external agencies and services, and help set longer-term “changemaker” goals for their mentees.