Nine years ago, when Maurice Hampton was incarcerated at Pickaway Correctional Institute in Ohio, he struggled to see any positivity in his situation. He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself, something that would give him a constructive mindset. That’s one of the reasons Maurice felt fortunate when he was transferred to another facility in Lancaster, where he went through a two day training to become a certified Roots of Success instructor.

Maurice took his newfound skills back to Pickaway where he and another instructor began to teach Roots of Success. “I think that the best aspect of Roots of Success, when it is taught in prisons,” says Maurice, “is that the course is taught by incarcerated instructors to their peers.” He used his class as a platform for change in the prison, starting a recycling center where Roots of Success students worked as reclaimers. These jobs represented opportunities: for positivity, for transformation, for sustainability, for skill building, and for future success.

When Maurice was transferred to Marion Correctional Facility, he and his fellow Roots of Success instructors created more sustainability classes, youth mentoring programs. They also opened a recycling center which processes 280,000 lbs of material per quarter and brings in $20-35k of revenue.

After Maurice was able to go home to his community, he got a job as an E.I.T. Civil Engineer at Quality Engineering Solutions. He also joined the Roots of Success Advisory Board, where he serves as a representative for Roots of Success in the Columbus Ohio region, helping to bring the program to incarcerated youth and adults in the state. Maurice shares his story to help reach more people and change their lives, like he says Roots of Success did for him.

Maurice has witnessed dramatic changes in his students’ happiness and sense of worth as they’ve gone through Roots of Success classes, which he says he experienced himself. The Social Entrepreneurship module is his favorite, because it inspires students and provides them with the support they need to become successful and self-sufficient. One of the biggest challenges people face when they are released, says Maurice, is finding jobs, because there is so little societal support. Roots of Success provides students with the tools they need to flourish, succeed, and move on to bigger and better things. Why is Roots of Success so crucial, according to Maurice? “In an incarcerated environment, when someone is wearing the same colors as you, has been in the same struggles as you, raised in the same war zone as you, is teaching you something that they have utilized, to transcend them out of the run of criminality and institutionalized thinking, it is incredibly powerful.”