The Year End Review 2018

The Year in Review

On behalf of the Project 180 Board of Directors, I invite you to take a few minutes to reflect on the positive advances Project 180 has made this year, achievements you have made possible through your generous financial support.

With the humblest of beginnings–a program run entirely by volunteers with very little money to support the work–Project 180 has made tremendous strides thanks to you and the tireless efforts of our board, volunteers, and staff.

You may not be present with us behind bars, in our residential home, or at our office, but you are our partner in all we do. Together, we’re a community that cares about those who have struggled before, during, and after incarceration. We are a community that is helping create positive changes in the lives of the men, women, and communities we serve. Here are a few of the accomplishments and events of the past twelve months that have made this a benchmark year in our history.

Over the past year:
-Project 180 opened our Residential Program. With your support, we provided 793 nights of shelter and 2,367 meals between late May and the end of November for the previously homeless and incarcerated men in our program. With your support we’ve also helped one man incubate a thriving business, one man reinstate his driver’s license, two men receive much-needed dental surgery, six men remain steadfast in their recovery, and nine men engage in improving their credit.

-Received corporate and foundation support from The Patterson Foundation, The Koski Family Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Edward T. Gardner Foundation, Edward & Elizabeth Gardner Foundation, The Scheidel Foundation, The Boscia Family Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, The Boxser Diversity Initiative, IBERIABANK, The Candlish-Cresswell Fund, Cadence Bank, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, G.R.A.S.P., Star Financial Solutions, Roberts Hardwood, CareerSource Suncoast, Covenant Mennonite Fellowship, Shea Trust, Artefact Design, Hudson’s Furniture, Mattress Firm, GravityFree, and Sarasota Technology Users Group.

-Made operational strides by hiring our first support staff, acquiring a van for the Residential Program, and purchasing a business phone, laptop, and software systems to streamline our work.

-Increased our services to inmates at the Sarasota County Jail, Hillsborough County Jail, and DeSoto Annex state prison.

Best of all, we continue to see positive changes and major improvements in the lives of those we serve. All our residents–formerly incarcerated, homeless, and drug-addicted–are in active recovery, fully employed, improving their physical health, increasing their financial stability, and restoring their relationships with their loved ones and the community.

As you make plans for your year-end donations, please remember Project 180 by clicking here. We simply cannot do our work without your help. We appreciate your support and wish you the happiest of holidays and a new year working in partnership to break the cycle of recidivism, stabilize lives, and create a safer community.

Farewell to Caty

Caty Kelley joined the team as Project 180’s Office Assistant only a few months ago but has made a tremendous impact through her work. As she leaves Project 180 to attend nursing school, we’d like to thank her for her service to inmates and released citizens throughout the state of Florida and their loved ones.

Upon her arrival, Caty immediately tackled one of our most important jobs: finding housing and programs in every county in the state of Florida for citizens released from prison and jail. In the short time she’s worked for Project 180, she has helped over 130 citizens by providing housing and program information for them upon release. She has taken her work seriously, knowing that the information she provides may determine their success or failure upon release.

Caty says, “I am so grateful for the opportunity of becoming part of Project 180…I may not have known all I was signing up for but I am so honored to have the opportunity to be a part of this organization. It forever changed my life.”

Thank you, Caty, for the important work you’ve done, the gravity and urgency you’ve dedicated to it, and for being present in heart, mind, and soul. Project 180 has become a stronger organization thanks to you and we will never forget the many contributions you’ve made. We send you off to a great future with our love and thanks.

A Note from the CEO

We’re immensely grateful to all of you who have already made a year-end gift to Project 180. It’s heart-warming to see the outpouring of care and assistance for the men and women we serve. Thank you for making this program a lifeline for so many.

For those who still wish to make a year-end contribution toward this important work, please visit our website at and click on the Donate Now button to make your gift.

Your support turns lives around.

With warmest holiday wishes,

Project 180
PO Box 25684
Sarasota, FL 34277-2684

Dining With Friends 2018

Dining With Friends
A Project 180 Friend- and Fund-raiser

Announcing “Dining With Friends!”

Earlier this year,Project 180 opened its Residential Program. Now, we’re kicking off “Dining With Friends,” a friend-and fund-raiser to support our residents and programs.

Would you do me a favor? Consider throwing a Dining With Friends party to show your friends your passion for criminal justice reform and to share Project 180’s stories and successes.

The concept is simple: Invite your friends for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, a picnic, cocktails, dinner, a theme party, or barbeque. While you enjoy dining with your friends, they’ll learn about Project 180’s important work and have the opportunity to show their support.

You provide the food and beverages. Your guests make a contribution to Project 180. It’s that easy!

Project 180 provides everything you’ll need to invite, inform, and inspire your guests:
customized digital save the dates, e-vites, and thank you notes that can easily be emailed (we can show you how)
a host orientation to give you all the information you’ll need to throw a great party
if you wish, a representative to attend your party to speak about Project 180
handouts about the good work we do because of your support
awesome Project 180 party favors for your guests
Don’t feel like the host with the most? You can throw a successful Dining With Friends party whether your group is large or small, in town or across the country, rich or not so rich. We’ll help you every step of the way so sign up below today!

If you’d like to attend a party, we’ll connect you with a Dining With Friends event. Check out a few of the great parties planned so far…

Parties in October
Paleo Brunch at Barb’s House

Dine With Friends of Barbara Richards and Elisa Graber on Sunday, October 28th. Join us for a Paleo and Raw Food brunch featuring New York Blues Hall of Fame inductee George Worthmore.

Enjoy: Barb’s famous grain-free granola with fresh and dried fruit
sweet potato hash with poached eggs
raw food tacos
pan-seared rib eye steak with fresh rosemary
fresh-squeezed OrangeAid (a Project 180 specialty)
and more while listening to George Worthmore’s repertoire of blues, classical, and jazz.

Cocktails & Canapes
Project 180 CEO Board President Tom Melville is holding a Cocktails & Canapes party at his beautiful Bradenton cottage.

Tom’s Maine roots are reflected in his delicious menu:
smoked wild-caught salmon canapes
barbequed chicken skewers with Pinot Noir/wild blueberry sauce
lobster sliders
miniature peach pies, and
Tom’s vodka martinis

Parties in November
Greek Night at Nik’s House

The residents of Nik’s House, Project 180’s Residential Program, are hosting a special Greek dinner to raise funds for our programs.

Come meet the guys and enjoy:
mezethakia (appetizers)
souvlakia (grilled skewers)
tzajiki (cucumber and yogurt dip)
horiatikisalata (country salad)
drachma potatoes, and

Ralph George
In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Project 180 friend Ralph George. Ralph first became associated with Project 180 as one of our CEO Workforce Education Program speakers at DeSoto Correctional Institution in 2017. The experience changed his life.

After becoming a Project 180 “CEO,” Ralph became a passionate Second Chance employer, wishing not only to employ formerly incarcerated citizens but also to help them achieve stability and well-being. His empathy was fueled in part by having recently started over after a difficult divorce and realizing how much more difficult starting over would be with a criminal record.

Ralph shared his CEO Program prison experiences in April this year at our Strong Voices lecture. His brief speech focused on the sense of brotherhood he felt with the men to whom he’d spoken. Not one to shy away from laughing at himself, he brought a small item for show-and-tell: a “panic button” alarm that he forgot to return to authorities on his most recent CEO Program visit. Charismatic, humorous, and deeply compassionate, Ralph will be sorely missed.

Giving Challenge 2018

Announcing the opening of Project 180’s Residential Program:
Opening Doors to New Opportunities

In our 2016 Giving Challenge campaign, “Be the One to Open the Doors,” we asked for your help in opening our Residential Program. You made it happen! Today and over the next few days as we gear up for the Giving Challenge, we’ll send you photos of our new home and the steps it’s taken to open it.

Just like Wendy Cox (below), Project 180 Founder’s Circle Member, volunteer, and speaker, you can “Be the One to Open Doors to New Opportunities!” for our residents by contributing to Project 180 in this year’s Giving Challenge.

Hear what Wendy has to say as she opens her favorite door (to her beautiful new car):
Click Here to Watch “Wendy Cox supports Project 180 in the Giving Challenge”

“Before” Photos of our New Residential Program Home
Thanks aren’t enough to express our gratitude to you for all your support for our new program. Located in Sarasota County, these are photos of the interior prior to and during the early days of renovation.

The Giving Challenge is presented by Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.

Additional prizes for participating nonprofits are offered by the following partners:
Manatee Community Foundation
Knight Foundation
William G. and Marie Selby Foundation
Herald Tribune Media Group
Charlotte Community Foundation
I-Heart Media
Harbor Style
Suncoast News Network (SNN)

Be the One! Each one of us has the potential to impact a person, a cause, a community. In May, you can be the one to make a difference during the 2018 Giving Challenge by contributing to Project 180 and other local nonprofit causes you love. One of our favorites is The Boxser Diversity Initiative.

We hope you’ll enjoy seeing the photos of our new Residential Program over the next few days. We’ve been working hard for years to realize this vision but never more so than during the last few months.

Many people have contributed generously since we took possession of our new home in January but the landlord who purchased the house, specifically for this program, made all the difference.

To our wonderful Landlord (who wishes to remain anonymous):
We are so deeply grateful to you for believing in our work. Thank you for supporting a second chance for Floridians who wish to restore their standing in society and live as mainstream citizens. Your generosity has already reverberated throughout the community and changed lives for the better. We appreciate you beyond measure.

With our deepest gratitude,
Barbara and the Project 180 Board of Directors

Photos from SVSS April & May 2018 and Donor Reception

Photos from Strong Voices in April

Photos from Strong Voices in May

Our April 26th Reception

Happy Birthday to Project 180

Project 180: Ten Years Old Today!
With a behind-the-scenes interview and photos from March 2nd, 2018

It’s our birthday! In the past decade we’ve grown from a shared vision to a thriving organization that serves inmates in five counties and provides leadership in educating the community about prisoner reentry. Thank you for your support through the years and for being a vital part of this important work.

The Honorable Charles E. Williams, Chief Judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, recently collaborated with Project 180 to educate the community about the effects of incarceration and reentry on the family. Judge Williams interviewed Strong Voices keynote speaker Joyce Arditti, PhD in the historic courtroom at Sarasota’s old courthouse. Manatee Educational TV (METV)’s Charles Clapsaddle and crew were on hand to film the interview about Professor Arditti’s research on the effects of parental incarceration. You can view it by clicking on the link in the article below.

If you missed the luncheon on March 2nd, we’ve also included a link to the full-length video of the lecture followed by photos from the day. Many thanks to METV’s partnership in filming the interview and lecture.

Read on: click on the links below to find out about our upcoming lectures and learn about children of incarcerated parents who number over 300,000 in Florida alone.

Judge Williams’ Interview with Joyce Arditti, PhD
AN INTERVIEW with the field’s foremost scholar
Watch this brief video on parental incarceration with Chief Judge Charles E. Williams and the scholar who pioneered the field.
Click Here to View “A Conversation with Dr. Joyce Arditti”

Video of the March 2nd Luncheon
Watch the full-length version of the March 2nd luncheon.
Click Here to Watch “Dr. Joyce Arditti – Coming Home: The Effects of Parental Incarceration”

Photos from the March 2nd Luncheon

Thank you for being a part of the Project 180 family and supporting community education, programs for incarcerated citizens, our Support Circle for formerly incarcerated citizens, and our upcoming Residential Program. You’ve brought Project 180 a long way. We’re proud of our progress and hope you are, too.

We’ll see you on April 6th for “In Their Own Words,” a panel discussion examining the impact of incarceration and reentry on the family.

With sincere thanks
Barbara Richards
Project 180

Meet Tracy Pratt

Criminal Defense Attorney Tracy Pratt
Determined to Make the World a Better Place

Project 180 is delighted to welcome attorney Tracy Pratt to our board. Tracy, 45, who hails from Michigan, was the first person in her family to obtain a college degree. Born to a plumber and day-care provider, she grew up in a blue collar industrial town where the most commonly traveled path was straight to factory work after graduation from high school.

Knowing nothing about college or even where the universities in Michigan were located, Tracy followed the well-trodden path to the factory. At 18, she landed a job in a plant where she pulled foam protectors over strips of conduit, leaving work each day with bloodied hands and only enough money to afford one meal a day. She lasted a month.

Packing everything she owned in her “beater” car, she moved back and forth between Michigan and Texas after enrolling in community college and failing a class. “No one had ever taught me how to attend college” she says, and juggling two jobs plus relying on public transportation had taken a toll on her class attendance. Tracy moved to Sarasota in 1994 and enrolled again. With greater stability, her grades improved and she completed her Associate degree at MCC (now SCF).

While she studied toward a Bachelor degree in human development, Tracy landed an internship in India working at a school for developmentally disabled children. After completing the internship, she traveled extensively and volunteered in one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages. When a friend suggested that she enroll in law school, her blue collar background stopped her cold. Her first reaction, “I don’t even know any lawyers. What do they do?,” shifted to confidence in knowing she’d found her place in life when she reviewed a law school’s curriculum. She knew that a career in the law would lead her exactly where she wanted to go: the place where the buck stops in making a better world.
Today, Tracy is married to Cole Pratt, a local physician. Cole and Tracy’s meeting had its genesis in Tracy’s volunteer work in India where she met a child on the streets of Kathmandu whom she came close to adopting. She paid for the child’s board at a school in Nepal and, upon her return to Sarasota, held a fundraiser for the school; her fundraising efforts were reported in the Herald Tribune. Cole read the article and was deeply inspired by Tracy’s work. By chance, weeks later he and his mother heard Tracy speak at a Buddhist center that both Tracy and Cole attended but through which they’d not previously met. So, how do you introduce yourself to the woman of your dreams at a Buddhist lecture? Put your mom on the case.

Cole’s mother set it right up. “What a great talk! You just have to meet my son. He’s a doctor! He’s about to travel to Thailand to work at a medical clinic in a refugee camp but he just happens to be here tonight…” and the rest is history.

Tracy and Cole have two children, Atticus and Eleanor (as in Finch and Roosevelt). Tracy received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in New Orleans and has a private practice in Bradenton focused on criminal appeals and post-conviction cases. Tracy is a member of the Manatee Bar Association, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Manatee County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ACLU, and is on the board of the Sarasota Cooperative Learning Project. Tracy is Vice Chair and Secretary of the Project 180 Board of Directors.

Tracy, welcome to the Project 180 Board of Directors!

The Impact of Imprisonment

The Impact of Imprisonment
Considering Prison’s Lasting Effects
MARCH 2017

“The Prison Experience”
Considering Prison’s Lasting Effects

It may be difficult for a regular citizen to empathize with the challenges inmates face in the hidden and sometimes mysterious world of prison.

Yet those of us who have always resided outside prison walls can certainly relate to having felt traumatized at some point in our lives and to feelings of loneliness and isolation, common experiences both during and after a prison sentence.

Recently released inmates often call Project 180 seeking assistance and, during our conversations, reveal challenges they face after release. We discussed some of these in a recent Herald Tribune Media Group guest column, “Consider prison’s lasting effects:”

Formerly incarcerated individuals report a lack of self-confidence and coping skills, loneliness, a fear of large crowds, and difficulty approaching and crossing busy streets. Others state they are extremely reluctant to interact with strangers by phone or in person, sometimes for months after release.

Those who have served long sentences report that they are in a ‘fragile state’ when they leave prison. Former inmates who relied upon a code of polite and respectful interaction in prison in order to maintain a safer environment, often experience co-workers and supervisors in the outside world as rude and disrespectful.

To expect recently released prisoners to immediately begin functioning in the outside world without a supportive social network reflects a troubling lack of knowledge about the prison experience and its aftereffects.

Behind the Scenes: Sal D’angelo & Sarasota Magazine

Project 180 volunteer Sal D’angelo‘s remarkable life journey began on the dangerous streets of Far Rockaway, NY, a section of Queens infamous for its violence and crime. The child of parents who both suffered with addictive disease, Sal developed his own by the age of 13, using cocaine, angel dust, ecstasy, and PCP.

Sal moved with his family from Far Rockaway to Tampa where he lived with his father during his teenage years. Arrested on charges of strong-arm robbery, burglary, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property, Sal was incarcerated in Lancaster Correctional Institute in Trenton, a Florida “gladiator” prison where violence among inmates and correctional officers was the norm.

Upon release, Sal’s reentry did not go smoothly. His addiction resulted in a return to crime, an overdose in a trailer park ditch, and another round of stealing to support his habit. Eventually a Sarasota County jail program helped him begin again. “’I was 29 years old. I’d been on the streets my whole life. You have to start your whole life over and forget everything you’ve ever known. It’s not simple’” (Levey-Baker, Sarasota Magazine, September 2017). Through hard work on himself, his faith, and the faith of others in him, he’s now giving back to others.

Today, in addition to holding a full-time job and being a new father, Sal volunteers to help run Project 180’s weekly Thursday night Support Circle for formerly incarcerated citizens where his leadership and quiet authenticity provide an anchor for others in the room. A thoughtful and reflective man, his willingness to share encourages others to speak up.

Sal is also the subject of a recent feature article by Cooper Levey-Baker in the September issue of Sarasota Magazine (freely quoted in this newsletter article). To read Cooper’s excellent piece about Sal, other justice-involved citizens, and Project 180, click here. A tale of struggle and triumph, it’s well worth the read.

Help advance Project 180’s Support Circle for formerly incarcerated citizens. Donate today.

Strong Voices Lecture Series 2018. “Coming Home: the Effects of Incarceration and Reentry on the Family”

Joyce A. Arditti, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Human Development

On Friday, March 2nd, Project 180’s annual lecture series on prisoner reentry issues begins with Joyce Arditti, PhD, professor of human development at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Her book, Parental Incarceration and the Family, won the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Outstanding Book Award in 2014 and garnered Dr. Arditti the Virginia Tech 2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Research. For tickets, see the link below.

On April 6th, join us for “In Their Own Words,” a panel discussion moderated by Joy Mahler, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Suncoast, who will be introduced by Nancy Detert, County Commissioner. Our panelists—a mother, a father, a daughter, and a spouse—will discuss how their lives have been and continue to be impacted by the incarceration of a loved one.

On May 11th, in “A Mother’s Story: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on the Family,” Heather Palmer Roberts will discuss the intersection of addictive disease, the criminal justice system, loss, and love.

Luncheons will be held at The Francis, 1289 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota beginning at 11:30 am and ending at 1:00 pm. The recommended arrival time is 11:15 am; free parking is available above Louie’s Modern.  Tickets are available at $30 each and include lunch. For sponsorships, please contact Barbara at

The Latest News: Tom Melville

Tom Melville

New Leadership at Project 180

Project 180 welcomes Tom Melville as our new Board Chair. Currently the Executive Director of The Literacy Council of Sarasota, Tom is well aware of the low literacy levels that plague incarcerated individuals and how adult low-literacy rates impact all sectors of a community. His drive, strategic thinking, and goal of helping adults meet their educational objectives and get ahead in life have already greatly benefited Project 180.

Building on the groundwork laid by former Project 180 Board Chair Veronica Brandon Miller, Tom brings a wealth of experience to the organization. “Thanks to a solid foundation built by previous boards, Project 180 is now moving out of the start-up phase as we institute additional internal structures and create more sustainable, long-term programming. We’re excited to begin providing direct services, including our Support Circle for formerly incarcerated individuals and, most notably, our Residential Program.”

With over 20 years of nonprofit executive management experience, Tom is providing key leadership in board-level oversight in his new role as Chair. A military veteran with over ten years in active duty, his previous positions include working with homeless organizations, coalitions, and HIV/AIDS service agencies as well as in community foundation development and fundraising.

Tom’s accomplishments and experience are extensive but it doesn’t hurt that he also has a superior intellect and a wickedly funny sense of humor.

Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Administration from State University of New York in Oswego, then spent ten years in the US Army. He spent most of that time at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) Foreign Language Center. For those unfamiliar with the DLI, graduates include senior US government officials, senators, and active duty service members from every branch of the US military. At DLI Tom studied Russian, in which he became fluent, as well as Central and Eastern European languages and cultures.

At Project 180, Tom keeps board meetings well-organized, purposeful and on point, staying actively engaged between meetings. Since assuming the Chair position in July, he has held officer elections, updated bylaws and policies, and formed committees, all with a clear sense of purpose in moving the organization to the next level.

Enthusiastically embracing tough community issues, Tom believes that the best way to help others and achieve social change is by combining leadership, compassion, and resources to create lasting solutions. It’s a great honor and pleasure to welcome Tom to such an important position at Project 180. Tom, we’re immensely grateful for all you do.

Help Project 180 achieve its Vision of reducing poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and criminal behavior among formerly incarcerated citizens.