Impact and Outcomes

We provide individuals serving long and life sentences with a platform to use their talents and help others.
We prepare youth to become the next generation of environmental justice activists.
We prepare students for good green jobs and to become social entrepreneurs.
We inspire students to be agents for change.




instructors trained


students graduated


took ROS while incarcerated

Roots of Success prepares people for living wage jobs and careers

A study we conducted of programs that used Roots of Success for at least two years found that among 1,200 graduates:

100% of program directors observed positive behavioral changes in participants

98% felt they were better prepared for job interviews

75% found employment within 3 months

Almost all were making better wages than in previous jobs

Almost all were in jobs with greater upward mobility

70% remained employed 6 months later

Roots of Success engages students and increases their knowledge and skills


Better understand environmental problems and solutions



Will share what they learn with others


More prepared for job interviews



More interested in community engagement


More knowledgeable about green careers



Increased professional vocabulary


Would recommend class to others



Improved basic academic skills

Learn how Roots of Success is connecting youth in neighborhood programs to the fields and industries that exist in the green economy.

Jameelah Muhammad has been teaching Roots of Success for green workforce training programs across New York City since 2010. She worked as Community Program Coordinator for the Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College and is currently the Academic Manager at Green City Force, where she teaches Roots of Success to young adults from across New York City.

Find out how Roots of Success is engaging participants of all backgrounds, and inspiring them to put what they learn into action.

Thomas and Wendy graduated from the Employment Training Center at Asian Neighborhood Design in 2011, after going through Roots of Success as part of AND’s green construction and life skills training program. AND is a 39-year-old community based organization dedicated to reducing poverty and revitalizing neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area by building healthy communities and providing opportunities for low-income residents to become economically self-sufficient.

Learn how Roots of Success is introducing youth to the green economy and preparing them to be social entrepreneurs in their communities.

Taleigh Smith is the Green Jobs Outreach Coordinator at the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) — which organizes people who live, work, and worship in the Northwest Bronx community to fight for social, economic, environmental, and racial justice. Taleigh has been teaching Roots of Success for NWBCCC and other NYC programs since 2010. NWBCCC empowers low-income youth and adults to fight climate change and promote energy efficiency by providing weatherization services to eligible low-income families through their Weatherization Assistance Program.


Success stories

Aaron, Urban Farmer

Roots of Success graduate Aaron Serrano is applying what he learned in the course at his job in the sustainable agriculture industry. Aaron made the most of his time at the Cook County DOC Sheriff’s Boot Camp by participating in a farming program at the boot camp’s three-quarter-acre farm, run by the Chicago Botanic Garden; and then joining the Botanic Garden’s transitional job crew after he was released. From there, Aaron entered Chicago Botanic Garden’s nine-month Windy City Harvest program — an in-depth training in sustainable horticulture and urban agriculture. Roots of Success is offered as part of the training to help participants develop their understanding of environmental issues, the green economy, and social justice.

Soon after graduating from Windy City Harvest and receiving his Roots of Success certificate, Aaron was hired by FarmedHere, LLC — a commercial vertical farm in Mid-West Chicago that grows salad greens, culinary herbs and Tilapia fish. Aaron found Roots of Success to be fascinating, educational, and entertaining — it gave him “a feeling of accomplishment,” while preparing him to apply for, get, and perform the job he has now. In this photo, you can see Aaron working in front of the aquaponic system that FarmedHere uses to grow its ‘Chicago Sweet Basil’ and ‘Windy City Arugula’ year round, organically, and with 97% less water than conventional farming.

You can read more of Aaron’s story here


Tina, Project Assistant

Tina Addi grew up in San Francisco’s Bay View Hunters Point. Between the ages of 13-22 she spent much of her time in and out of juvenile halls and county prison. In 2009, when she was sentenced to 5 year in federal prison, Tina decided it was time for a change, especially with 2 daughters to care for. Upon her release she was referred to a 15-week job training program where she took Roots of Success. Her newfound knowledge of environmental problems and solutions helped her secure a 2 year position at the SF Environment Now program where Roots of Success is being used as a foundational tool for environmental literacy and professional development. Now as a Project Assistant at Cascadia Consulting, Tina helps local businesses set up their recycling and waste systems and looks forward to a promising future in the waste management field.

“Roots gave me my passions and it drew me to environmental work. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t care or even really know about environmental issues. Roots of Success made it relatable. It feels like it was written for underserved communities, and I don’t feel like I’m being discriminated against for that reason. ”

You can read more of Tina’s story here


Nathan, Adult Education Coordinator

Nathan Hazen Durán grew up in Arizona in the foster care system. He became involved with gangs and was incarcerated at a young age, spending two years in juvenile hall by the age of 15. Upon release, he decided he didn’t want to feel stuck anymore, and earned a scholarship to study Architecture at the University of San Francisco. Three years into college though, his cousin passed away due to gang violence, and Nathan’s grades dropped. Soon after, he got involved with gangs again, and was incarcerated again. This time Nathan was released, he went to Larkin St. Youth Services, where he chose to participate in a job training program called Asian Neighborhood Design. It was there he took the Roots of Success course.

Roots of Success’ in-depth approach, says Nathan, taught him foundational skills, and helped guide and structure his understanding of environmental issues and  community organizing. This helped with job interviews. He says that a lot of city agencies and nonprofits value the Roots of Success curriculum, and that the certificate upon completion of the course helped him on a resume. But even more significantly, it teaches essential environmental and public health issues in the community, and how to approach talking about them. “Roots was there every step of the way. At every program I entered, they had either used Roots or were currently using Roots.”

Nathan got a job in construction, where he convinced demolition crews to recycle used wood, earning a profit in the process. Using his skills from the ROS financial literacy module, he saved the contractor money and made money himself while applying the education he gained through Roots of Success.

On his lunch break, Nathan started volunteering to teach environmental classes at the Community Housing Project, where he was soon hired. As a Roots teacher and Adult Education program coordinator, he appreciates being able to mentor young adults much like him— many had very few skills, just like when he entered the program. Nathan says he wants to make an impact, especially in those populations that he identifies with. His dream is to serve the population he came from by starting a nonprofit with a community garden and horticulture program where he can teach Roots of Success classes.

“Everyone is very grateful that went through that program,” Nathan says. “People have a lot of respect for Raquel and what she has created. It gave me inspiration and guidance and the know-how to navigate through what I wanted my overall outcome to be.”

You can read more of Nathan’s story here


To share your story or learn more about how you can support Roots of Success, email us at

Roots of Success helps programs meet their goals

100% saw significant behavioral change in their participants

99.4% say ROS improved their students’ academic skills

98.8% say ROS familiarized their students with green jobs and career pathways

95% say the course increased their ability to help students learn about environmental problems and solutions

91.6% say ROS motivated their students to become civically engaged

89.2% say ROS improved their students’ communication and public speaking skills

80% say the ROS teaching approach and curriculum positively influenced their teaching style

77.8% say ROS motivated students to conserve resources

“ROS helps me engage and prepare low-income youth of color for the 21st century labor market and green economy. The certificate is something they can be proud of and has a significant impact on their ability to find work.”

Oscar Medina

Teacher, Western Institute for Leadership Development

“Men who take a ten week Roots of Success class while incarcerated in Washington State Penitentiary have the opportunity to apply for jobs in the facility’s Sustainable Practices Lab. About 70% of the 127 ROS graduates have been offered jobs in the Lab and no one can recall anyone turning down the opportunity. This is a great model for turning theory into practice.”

Joslyn Trivett

Network Manager, Sustainable Prisons Project

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New Instructors: Garden Time, Benevolence Farm, Growing Home

This fall we had the opportunity to train and certify instructors in three fantastic programs to teach the Roots of Success course and enroll participants in our new Department of Labor recognized Pre-Apprenticeship. Growing Home, located in Chicago, is a longtime...

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The teaching approach we use in the Roots of Success program is inspired by the work of Brazilian educator and activist Paulo Freire. Freire’s pedagogy of literacy education involves not only reading the word, but also reading the world. This involves the development...

Roots of Success welcomes Dan Pacholke to our Advisory Board

Roots of Success is excited to welcome Dan Pacholke to our Advisory Board!   Dan Pacholke served the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) for 33 years, starting as a Correctional Officer and retiring as Secretary.  In 2004, while serving as a prison...

Welcome new ROS team member Shruti!

Shruti Sreenath is the Product Manager and Project Lead for Course Migration at Roots of Success. Her work focuses on content migration and improving user experience for the Roots of Success Online Version. She has a wide range of experience in Technology Management...

ROS participates in Taproot Pro Bono Marathon

Last week Roots of Success had the fortune of participating in the Taproot Foundation's Pro Bono Marathon along with other Bay Area nonprofits Cat Town, Build Healthy Places Network, and Pacifica Spindrift Players. In the one day event, nonprofits tackled a challenge...

Roots of Success Apprenticeship Certified at the National Level

We are thrilled to announce that the Roots of Success program officially received national approval of our Environmental Literacy Instructor Apprenticeship program from the federal Department of Labor this week. Offering our new Apprenticeship and...

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Interested in scheduling a training, reviewing a sample the curriculum, or simply learning more about how Roots of Success could make an impact on your classroom? Reach out to us via email below.