Rev. Simmons is the founder of Why Not Prosper Inc., a Philly-based grassroots 501(c)3 with a mission to help women in the prison system discover their own strength and to empower them to become responsible, economically self-sufficient, and contributing members of the community.
Since she has created Why Not Prosper, the organization has assisted hundreds of women to transition from prison back to their local community.
Deep Understanding of her Community
In 2001, Rev. Simmons founded Why Not Prosper, Inc. As a formerly incarcerated woman, who received a full and unconditional pardon for her earlier conviction, she has a deep understanding of the needs of women in the prison system. Her organization now provides Pre-release Mentoring to incarcerated women at Riverside Correctional Facility, Muncy, and Cambridge Springs Prisons. On average, 100 to 150 women attend the workshops that prepare women for their release from prison.
Rev. Simmons also secured the properties for and founded Why Not Prosper House – a 6-to-12-month residential program for women that are homeless or need more time to stabilize following prison that serves 45 to 60 women annually. Women have a safe, comfortable, and affordable home with access to employment services that include a one-year Employment Mentoring Program where workshops on workplace culture, workers’ legal rights, and GED tutoring are provided.
Support in Many Different Ways
Over the years Rev. Simmons has created and launched a number of other services through Why Not Prosper including a Teleservice Program in Montgomery County offering support services via phone or in-person as needed. Other programs that support women include:
- A Graphic Arts Program that is a one-year program designed to encourage graphic arts for a career, employment, or continuing education.
- A Leadership/Advocacy program helps women recognize their leadership abilities and the value of collective action to create systemic changes.
- A Domestic Violence Program at Riverside Prison and in the Germantown community that provides educational workshops helping women to recognize risk factors that lead to violence against women and provides continued support when needed.
- And finally, a Women’s Advocacy Program implemented in January 2015, which is a one-year program that educates women on how to advocate and provides a 6-month internship at Riverside Correctional Facility preparing advocates to facilitate workshops on the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
Rev. Simmons has authored three books during her tenure as Founder and CEO of the organization, Why Not Prosper? The Decision is Yours and Keep it Movin’ – both having to do with her background and experiences and how to overcome adversities in life. Her third book- Why Not Prosper House: How I Started a Transitional Living Facility and How You Can Too! deals with how to start a transitional living facility and create a successful nonprofit organization.
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