The Michael G. Santos Foundation
March 24, 2014
We are building The Michael G. Santos Foundation, an organization that offers products and services that teach others how to become more than past bad decisions or current circumstances. Our initial focus will cover three areas:
- Providing products and services to teach people how to reject criminal lifestyles, develop critical thinking skills, and prepare for success.
- Build bridges that help formerly incarcerated individuals enter the labor market as law-abiding taxpaying citizens.
- Spread awareness on reasons why we must reduce our nation’s commitment to mass incarceration and end the greatest social injustice of our time.
We need to unify a team around this vision. To bring this team together, we must have a plan for financial sustainability. With that end in mind, we must create an income stream that allows our organization to cover expenses necessary to advance our vision. We may incur significant expenses that do not have a direct relationship to revenues; those expenses (travel, promotions, publishing) may be necessary to advance our vision. Without an income stream, we cannot become more than a starving social-service agency that exists on shaky legs. With these realities in mind, we must be creative and innovative as we contemplate potential income streams. Suggestions for building an income stream follow:
- Continue selling licensing fees to organizations that have a budget to purchase our Straight-A Guide Cognitive Skills Development Program.
- Sell our staffing services to business organizations that require temporary entry-level workers.
- Build and operate additional businesses that generate cash flow. Those funds would subsidize expenses we incur to further our vision, even though they do not result in compensation.
- An example of such a business would be to build a merchant transaction service. We’re developing that model now.
Each of the plans to monetization requires focus. We’ve succeeded in selling several annual licensing agreements to different organizations that will use our Straight-A Guide Cognitive Skills Development Program. An overview of that program follows below, describing the theory behind all of our work. But we’ve learned a great deal since launching our licensing strategy.
Despite initial robust sales of those licensing agreements, financial resources have not yet flown into the organization in a meaningful way. We’ve experienced a long bottleneck between the time an organization agrees to purchase our product and the time that our organization receives payment.
We received verbal representations through March 15, 2014 indicating that we had booked a total of $140,000 in revenues. Yet since the introduction of our product, we’ve only received $24,000 in payments. This slow delivery in receiving payment from purchase orders has caused us to recalibrate and assess our strategy. We’re shifting our focus to areas that may result in income streams that would sustain our organization while we advance our vision.
- Licensing: In late May, our organization is scheduled to participate in a conference event in San Diego; Michael will introduce our flagship product during his keynote presentation. The conference is open to educators from across the state. Conference participants are responsible to teach people who are vulnerable to problems with the criminal justice system. We will make a big push at that conference to sell licensing agreements for our Straight-A Guide. Additionally, to help market the program Justin Paperny and Caryn Quincey will coordinate a Straight-A Guide Vendor booth at the conference.
- Until that conference, however, we are postponing efforts we had been making to cold-call or e-mail potential clients. Our organization cannot afford the time-commitment to pursue the cold-calling strategy and travel expenses that we used through February and March with little benefit.
- We face resistance for two reasons: 1) some prospective clients object because we lack what is known as “evidence-based research” that authenticates the validity of our program; and 2) some members of a prospective clients’ team are luke warm to working with a formerly incarcerated individual. We need time and financial resources to overcome the evidence-based research component; we must work to overcome resistance some clients have about working with the formerly incarcerated.
- We will continue to service those organizations that have purchased our licensing agreement.
- We anticipate additional orders will flow from those relationships in time.
Staffing: Our organization operates a temporary staffing agency. We currently have an agreement with one community-based organization in Stockton. That organization teaches our Straight-A Guide to formerly incarcerated individuals. We also have an agreement with one employer that has hired ten formerly incarcerated individuals through our staffing company. A revenue stream flows from this effort. The staffing company provides the labor from a pool of candidates that have been trained in the Straight-A Guide. Then the staffing company bills the client (the employer) for the number of hours that the formerly incarcerated individual works.
- Staffing is a viable path to monetization because we’re providing a service. We provide entry-level employees to businesses. We pass along all costs, and place a surcharge of 15 percent to the business for administrative costs. Those revenues subsidize our organization, providing resources to cover expenses for the work that we do without compensation.
- To scale the staffing component, we need to systematize the effort. We need to make a unified pitch to business, articulating the value we provide. We must all speak in a unified voice about why business organizations should hire through the Straight-A Guide Staffing Agency. We must be able to show the plan of what we do and why we’re different. Please review the “Proposed Unified Message” that appears below.
Merchant Transaction Services: Michael is currently working to develop this business model. We anticipate opening an opportunity to provide credit card processing services to any merchant. We will receive a residual revenue stream from every credit card swipe that each business we sign generates. This model becomes compelling if we succeed in signing up and training hundreds, and then thousands of representatives. We can achieve this goal by using the Straight-A Guide approach. As stated previously, all of our work must revolve around a unified message that advances the brand of the Michael G. Santos Foundation. A suggested or “Proposed Unified Message” follows:
Proposed Unified Message:
Our nation confines more than 2.3 million people at a cost that exceeds $75 billion per year. The Michael G. Santos Foundation offers solutions. We’re convinced that the push to mass incarceration has contributed to intergenerational cycles of failure, spawning the greatest social injustice of our time. Rather than asking for financial handouts to support our work, we offer programs that add value and efficiencies to business enterprises. By collaborating with us, businesses can support our entrepreneurial efforts to improve the outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system.
We teach values-based, goal-oriented principles through our Straight-A Guide Programs. They’re premised on the proven strategies that Michael Santos used to prepare for a law-abiding life while traversing 26 years in prison. His message resonates with incarcerated individuals and with formerly incarcerated individuals because he created a different outcome for his life; our organization teaches others how to create those same types of positive outcomes for their life. Indeed, while serving 9,500 days in prison, Michael created opportunities that resulted in the following outcomes:
- He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree while incarcerated.
- He published numerous books while incarcerated that university professors from around the United States use to teach others about our criminal justice system.
- He built a support network of thousands while incarcerated.
- He married the love of his life and nurtured that marriage while climbing through his final decade of imprisonment.
- He fully documented the journey, showing how his deliberate adjustment opened a continuing stream of opportunities, regardless of where he was held.
- He created earnings that allowed him to support his family, pay taxes, and return to society with sufficient savings that would carry him through his first year of liberty.
- He persuaded San Francisco State University to hire him as a lecturer before he concluded his prison term and he began teaching on a university campus 17 days after finishing his term.
Our Straight-A Guide Program teaches others how they can create better outcomes for their life.
- We teach individuals how and why they must reject criminal lifestyles and associates.
- We show participants how to develop critical thinking skills.
- We motivate people to make a 100 percent commitment to adding value to society as law-abiding citizens.
I am a representative of the Michael G. Santos Foundation because I identify and wholly commit to this message. Our organization teaches others how to become more than the bad decisions of their past or their current circumstances. We are passionate about many things, including:
- Teaching individuals how to reach their highest potential, regardless of past or current circumstances.
- Improving outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system.
- Working to end the greatest social injustice of our time.
We invite you to work with The Michael G. Santos Foundation. If you need an entry-level worker, we ask that you hire that individual through our Straight-A Guide Staffing Solutions subsidiary. If your enterprise processes credit cards, we ask that you sign up with us through our merchant transaction services. We can add value to your business while simultaneously building a funding stream that will subsidize our efforts to eradicate the greatest social injustice of our time.
What is the Straight-A Guide?
The Straight-A Guide is the branded message that we’re striving to deliver. What is it? It is a guide to show others how to reach their highest potential. If packaged properly, the Straight-A Guide has massive potential to scale. It is applicable to all areas of human life and we must convey this vision to others. But let’s begin with a focus on our mission:
The Michael G. Santos Foundation teaches others how to reach their highest potential as law-abiding, contributing human beings.
We commit to a three-pronged plan to bring massive change. Those three prongs include:
- Providing products and services to organizations that teach people who are vulnerable to the criminal justice system. Our Straight-A Guide Program teaches people how:
- To reject criminal lifestyles and associates.
- To develop critical thinking skills.
- To become contributing members of society.
- Building bridges that connect the formerly incarcerated with the job market through our staffing agency.
- Spreading public awareness on reasons why our nation’s commitment to mass incarceration represents the greatest social injustice of our time. We accomplish that goal through public speaking and teaching.
Premise behind Michael G. Santos Foundation:
Justin Paperny, executive director, launched the Michael G. Santos Foundation because he learned from Michael. Justin recognized that Michael’s deliberate, methodical approach to overcoming challenges could transcend prison boundaries and help anyone reach a higher potential. Wanting to be a part of a movement to teach these strategies to others, Justin launched the nonprofit while Michael served his final years in prison.
Why do we build the brand around the Michael G. Santos story?
We build a message behind the Michael G. Santos story because it’s authentic. The story is well documented of how Michael transformed his life while traversing longer than 26 years as a federal prisoner. His values-based, goal-oriented approach to building a better life began while he was locked inside of a jail cell, awaiting a sentence that exposed him to life in prison. Despite such a challenge, he created a strategy to prepare for success. He then made a 100 percent commitment to that strategy, which empowered him along the way. The products and services we offer teach others how to achieve better outcomes in their life, regardless of current circumstances.
Underlying Theory of our Straight-A Guide Programs:
We currently have one version of the Straight-A Guide. It is a 50-hour, cognitive skills development program. We’ve designed this program primarily for facilitators who work in schools and government agencies. They may use our videos, our literature, and our curriculum to teach our principled approach to life. Our program operates under the theory that people who’ve been incarcerated will respond better to the message of positive change if people who’ve transformed their life while in custody deliver the message.
Soon we will develop additional versions of the Straight-A Guide.
- We intend to develop an abbreviated version to teach new “soft skills” to the formerly incarcerated.
- We intend to develop an additional version to teach our values-based, goal-oriented principles to leaders of any type of organization.
Elements of our Straight-A Guide Program:
Our Straight-A Guide program is designed around a principled strategy. We teach this course in 10 separate modules that follow:
- Overview: We introduce the concept of our program and explain how anyone can use the values-based approach to reach a higher potential in any area of life.
- Values: We teach individuals how to identify and articulate values by which they profess to live.
- Goals: We teach individuals how to set clearly defined goals, with specific timelines and barometers for success.
- Attitude: We show how a 100 percent commitment success can transform an individual’s life.
- Aspiration: We teach individuals how to visualize themselves at a higher level of success.
- Action: We teach individuals how to make a commitment to incremental action plans.
- Accountability: We show individuals how to design their own accountability metrics so that they can gauge their progress toward the goals they set.
- Awareness: We teach individuals two prongs of awareness:
- Those who commit to the deliberate path of the Straight-A Guide become aware of opportunities they can seize.
- Those who commit to the deliberate path of the Straight-A Guide generate an awareness in the market place and find others who sign on and advance new opportunities to grow.
- Achievement: We teach participants how to celebrate each incremental success along the way.
- Appreciation: We teach participants how to show appreciation to their communities and support network by proving worthy of the opportunities that opened, paying the privileges forward each step of the way.
- We need to create a Straight-A Guide Program that facilitators may use to teach soft skills to the formerly incarcerated. Ideally, we should produce 10 lessons with a single workbook. Facilitators should be able to use the video and workbook to teach soft skills to the formerly incarcerated. We could teach those soft-skills in a weekend seminar or over a longer period of time, such as 10 separate one-hour meetings.
- We could train facilitators (college interns) to teach the program inside of a halfway house or on a college campus.
- We could show our program in a coherent way to potential employers who may want to hire the formerly incarcerated through our staffing service, or they may hire the formerly incarcerated directly as fulltime employees.
- We would then build a roster of formerly incarcerated individuals who want to transition into the labor market.
- Sales Force. We must also train a sales force to help us open jobs with employers. Every representative of that sales force should rally around our unified message: We’re creating a brand that shows others how to embrace the same values-based, goal-oriented strategies that empowered one individual to transform his life while climbing through 9,500 days of confinement. The strategy empowers people to add value to society and to employers.
- Merchant Transaction Services: We must coordinate events to build a team of sales representatives for our merchant transaction subsidiary. This service allows us to open business opportunities for others and simultaneously earn an income stream that subsidizes our organization to fund the considerable work we’ll do without compensation.
- Workshop Products: We must develop new materials that will allow us to sell our products and services as leadership resources for other organizations.
As a new organization with limited resources, we need a coherent vision. The following people are our initial team members:
Justin is executive director of the organization. His responsibilities are administrative and fundraising. He needs to follow through with clients, handle necessary paperwork, and work to create new funding streams, either through grants or purchase orders. Justin may also work to open relationships with prospective employers, and he may also open relationships with enterprises that may use our merchant transaction service.
Justin Paperny, Executive Director
Caryn shares the vision of our organization and she has a passion to succeed, evidenced by her entrepreneurial approach to contacting employers. Without a doubt, she has leadership potential that could result in more people working for our staffing agency. Those jobs could result in a significant revenue stream. She has already opened discussions with large employers like AT&T, Hilton, and Aramark, a uniform rental company with more than 400,000 customers.
Caryn Quincey, Sales Director
Michael is responsible for building the brand. He writes and produces the content we use to teach and he teaches when necessary. He must live transparently and invite the world to hold him accountable. He documents the journey through web postings and he furthers the brand by teaching, speaking, and generating interest in the work that we do.
Michael Santos, Program Director
The unified message that our team members must embrace is that anyone can learn from the strategies we teach. Those strategies empowered a man to triumph over 26 years of imprisonment, and they can help others overcome challenges that life presents. Our work teaches those strategies to others. Those who make a commitment to the Straight-A Guide become self-resourceful and successful. Through our work we, realize our vision in an entrepreneurial way.
This is a living document and we welcome input from those who join our team.