Our Impact

Willie Lagway Southeast Correctional Institution, Lancaster OH

We provide individuals serving long and life sentences with a platform to use their talents and help others.

Oscar Medina Western Institute for Leadership Development, Tucson AZ

We prepare youth to become the next generation of environmental justice activists.

Haydee Burrola Five Keys Charter School, San Bernardino CA

We prepare students for good green jobs and to become social entrepreneurs.

Fall 2011 Graduates Asian Neighborhood Design, San Francisco CA

We inspire students to be agents for change.








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

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


As a child, Shelby recalls having traveled to her father’s workplace at an Injection Molding Sector; an experience she brought to her Roots of Success classroom as firsthand knowledge in the plastics industry. Having also spent time learning the trade of a Logging Watchman, she found certification in Roots of Success to help reinforce those values in Forest Stewardship. With knowledge and hard work in various jobs around Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, she’s acquiring the skills needed to gain a productive future with a solid foundation. Shelby’s drive is enabling her to complete the 2,000 hour custodial Technician Certification by helping the hazmat team and buffing floors with the floor crew on top of attending to her studies. With high test scores and perfect attendance in the environmental literacy program, Shelby is looking forward to obtaining her LEED certification along with OSHA and hazmat credentials. Shelby is gleaning all she can before paroling. Thanks to Roots of Success at CCCF, she will leave with a blueprint for sustainable living, a sustainable future, economical independence, and a newfound social responsibility. 

This story is from Coffee Creek Sustainability News June – July 2021 Issue #53 and Shelby was interviewed by Roots of Success Peer Educator Lori Moseley.




Mark Mack served 10 years behind bars in the state of Ohio, and came to the Roots of Success program in 2015. “I always wanted to do something educational,” Mark said about why he chose to take the class. “My favorite part was learning about renewable energy, because of global warming and greenhouse gases.”

Upon release, Mark went to Chicago, where Roots of Success staff introduced him to Windy City Harvest at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “It was awesome,” Mark says about the urban agriculture program. “I wish I could get a lot of young brothers and sisters off the street and into a program like that. It was very helpful, educational, and humbling, especially the people that get you through the program.” In addition to his urban agriculture training Mark also obtained his forklift, OSHA, and SafeServ certifications while at WCH.

“I thought a lot about the environmental topics that I learned from Roots of Success while at Windy City. Coming back to a big city, I had a deeper knowledge than the others in the program from having taken all the Roots of Success modules.”

What’s next for Mark? “I’m considering going back to school to get a degree. When the time comes, I will. I’m coming out of my shell after being incarcerated, developing my communication skills. I’m applying to work as a custodian at the research laboratory. I want the Roots of Success community to see this is very inspiring to me. Roots of Success has put me on a path to success.”

You can read more of Mark’s story here


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 info@rootsofsuccess.org.

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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Roots of Success is making an impact every day. To stay up-to-date on our work, visit our blog and follow us on social media.


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Roots of Success Receives CAI New and Innovative Grants

We are happy to announce that Roots of Success has been awarded two California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) New and Innovative grants! CAI is a grant opportunity offered by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to support the creation of new...

National Apprenticeship Week Webinar “Preparing Youth and Adults from Frontline Communities for Good Green Jobs – The Roots of Success Environmental Literacy Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship”

Please join us Monday, November 7 at 12pm PST for a webinar entitled "Preparing Youth and Adults from Frontline Communities for Good Green Jobs – The Roots of Success Environmental Literacy Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship". This webinar will share best practices...

Photo Gallery: Congratulations to the newest cohort of graduates at the St Patrick Center!

The St Patrick Center has graduated their second cohort of Roots of Success graduates! The Workforce Development Team Mission at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis, Missouri, focuses on reconnecting clients to their...

St Patrick Center begins its second Roots of Success cohort

This week the St Patrick Center in St Louis, Missouri kicked off its second cohort of Roots of Success students. The following was written by instructor Basia Skudrzyk: There are challenges with the way solutions have been put into practice in the environmental...

Partner Spotlight: St. Patrick Center

The Workforce Development Team Mission at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis, Missouri, focuses on reconnecting clients to their communities by providing opportunities for training, education and employment; establishing a foundation for human growth and dignity. St....

New instructors certified at New Mexico Department of Corrections

In February 2022 we had the great pleasure to train 5 new Roots of Success instructors, Ashley Bass, Programs Manager at Springer Correctional Facility was trained along with Savannah Holm, Sandra Pierson, Hope Bass, and Leticia Nicolet, who are currently incarcerated...

Contact Us

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.