Photos from the April 5th Luncheon

A Note From the CEO
Nik’s House has been welcomed into the Sarasota community. Offering an unprecedented level of support for formerly incarcerated men, it features a strong emphasis on recovery support, financial stability, self-awareness, life skills, community engagement, and employment skills.

During their first two weeks, Anthony and Joe have attended a minimum of one Twelve Step meeting a day, toured both Suncoast Technical College and Jewish Children and Family Services, taken their first financial literacy class, studied the Hero’s Journey and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and begun reunifying with their families.

In between, they’ve kept house, worked in the yard, shopped for groceries, worked on their personal binders to track their progress, and had great attitudes every step of the way. I’m tremendously proud of Mike’s leadership and of both Joe and Anthony for their positive approach to a new life.

Thank you for all you’ve done to support this vision and for the opportunities you’ve brought to these wonderful men. We’ll keep you posted on how things are going!

With many thanks,

In this year’s upbeat Strong Voices series, Models for the Future At Work Today: Successful Strategies in Incarceration & Reentry, we’ll look at what’s being done well: the best prisons in the world; Sarasota’s outstanding jail programs and treatment courts; and the most progressive prison programs in the U.S.

Don’t miss our superb sixth season of Strong Voices at our new venue:

Michael’s On East
1212 South East Avenue, Sarasota
11:30 am to 1:00 pm
March 8th
April 5th
May 10th

Robert C. and Pamela Gore Meade, Co-Chairs

“An International Perspective” with James M. Byrne, PhD
Friday, March 8

Prisons from Norway to New Zealand have made international news for their progressive, positive practices. What cultural standards and social intent drive these approaches to incarceration? What types of housing, programs, and activities do they offer? Are they successful in preparing incarcerated citizens for reentry?

Project 180 friend and FSU professor Dan Mears immediately suggested Jim Byrne when we asked him to recommend a speaker for this topic. Professor Byrne, who has close to 30 years’ experience in criminology and criminal justice, will join us to discuss the world’s best prisons, their practices, and the cultural environments from which they arise.

Jim Byrne, PhD, is the recipient of The Distinguished Scholar Award and The Marguerite Warren and Ted B. Palmer Differential Intervention Award from the American Society of Criminology. He is co-editor of the journal, “Victims and Offenders: Journal of Evidence-Based Practices,” has conducted a wide range of evaluations of criminal justice initiatives, and has provided testimony on the effectiveness of community sanctions before Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

“Local Problem-Solving Courts” with 12th Circuit Judges
Friday, April 5th

Local problem-solving courts, also known as treatment courts, are turning lives around. Working in partnership with case managers and local nonprofits, including Project 180, they differ from traditional courts in that they seek to resolve underlying issues like addiction that cause citizens to become involved in the criminal justice system.

Learn about our local problem-solving courts and their successes on Friday, April 5th with Justices
Erika Quartermaine of Mental Health Court
David Denkin of DUI Court
Andy Owens of Drug Court and Veterans Court
Special guest Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight will join the panel to discuss the constructive–even life-saving–programs being offered at the jail.

“State Solutions” with Secretary Ralph M. Diaz
Friday, May 10th

We reached out to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) requesting a speaker to discuss the progressive programs being offered to inmates at San Quentin and other California prisons. We were surprised and thrilled to hear that the Secretary himself wished to join us to deliver the keynote address on May 10th.

Secretary Diaz will introduce us to the CDCR’s wide array of programs and activities like Marin Shakespeare, the Prison University Project, the Compassion Games, Cultural Awareness, Environmental Conscientiousness, Distance Education for Bachelor’s and Associates Degrees, and more.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear from the Secretary of the prison system that leads the country in progressive approaches to incarceration and preparation for reentry.

Secretary Diaz has over 27 years in the field of corrections, serving in various leadership roles over the past five years. He started his career in 1991 as a correctional officer, advancing to correctional counselor, correctional counselor supervisor, and prison warden. Mr. Diaz has been instrumental in developing policies and processes that focus on staff well-being and training, inmate rehabilitation and accountability, and communication with victims and families.

Become a Sponsor
Your sponsorship not only secures preferred seating at the lectures but also helps to support the series itself. Please consider a sponsorship to receive these benefits:

Platinum Sponsor $5,000
8 seats at each lecture with preferred seating
Recognition at each lecture with speaking opportunity at one lecture
Name and logo listing as Platinum Sponsor on all promotional materials

Gold Sponsor $1,500
6 tickets at each event
Recognition in media and event materials

Silver Sponsor $750
4 tickets at each event
Recognition in media and event materials

Bronze Sponsor $500
3 tickets at each event
Recognition in media and event materials

Patron Sponsor $275
2 tickets at each event
Recognition in media and event materials

For more information or to become a sponsor, please contact Barbara at

With Sincerest Gratitude to our Sponsors
Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s
“Edward K. Roberts Emerging Needs Fund”

The Boxser Diversity Initiative

Robert C. and Pamela Gore Meade

CareerSource Suncoast

The Herald Tribune Media Group

A Note from the CEO
We’re proud of Strong Voices. To our knowledge, it’s the only ongoing lecture series in the nation dedicated specifically to reentry issues. Conceived of and produced only in Sarasota, it keeps our community well-informed on reentry topics from year to year by exploring recent research, current trends, and innovative solutions to incarceration and reentry. This year’s topic is particularly positive as we look at what’s being done right throughout the world as well as in our own back yard.

See you at the lectures!

Barbara Richards
President/CEO, Founder

Project 180
PO Box 25684
Sarasota, FL 34277-2684

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
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.

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 Strong Voices in April

Photos from Strong Voices in May

Our April 26th Reception

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

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
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.

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.