Antonio Montgomery was released from prison a little more than two months ago. He served 14 years following armed robbery and simple kidnapping charges. Like so many other inmates, when he was released he was given a $10 check and bus ticket. One out of every two people released from prison in our state will return within five years, according to the Louisiana Department of Corrections. However, since 2014 one New Orleans non-profit has been working to change the trend. Now, they are receiving national attention and potentially a million bucks.
The Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced this week that The First 72 + was one of 20 finalists in the “Communities Thrive Challenge.” Nearly 2,000 different organizations across the nation applied to show how their non-profit makes a difference in under-served communities. At the end of the year, 10 out of the 20 organizations will get a $1 million grant.
One of the people the NPO has helped is named Antonio Montgomery. He was released from prison a little more than two months ago. He served 14 years following armed robbery and simple kidnapping charges. Like so many other inmates, when he was released he was given a $10 check and bus ticket.
"When I got out I didn't have anywhere to go,” said Montgomery. “I basically had no family support. I didn't have any clothing, food, basically nothing." The 33-year-old now works two jobs and he's active in the Toastmaster program, helping others with public speaking. He credits his turn-around to The First 72 +. "(From) day one it was all about getting me on my feet and helping me make a positive transition back into society," said Montgomery. Kelly Orians with The First 72 + applied for the grant earlier this year. "It feels unbelievable but at the same time it's deserved,” said Orians. “The work we've been doing here is important."